On December 27, 1897, Bank of Hawai‘i became the first chartered and incorporated bank to do business in the Republic of Hawai‘i; it is Hawai‘i’s second oldest bank. (BOH)
(Bishop & Co (later known as First Hawaiian Bank) started as a banking partnership under the laws of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i on August 17, 1858. (FHB))
The Bank of Hawai‘i charter was issued by James A King, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Hawai‘i, and signed by Sanford Ballard Dole, president of the Republic.
Bank of Hawai‘i operated its first office from a two-story wooden building in downtown Honolulu, sharing space with the Hawaiian Safe Deposit & Investment Company, which Jones established in 1893 with his son, Edwin Austin Jones.
Previously, in 1893, Peter Cushman Jones persuaded close friends Joseph Ballard Atherton and Charles Montague Cooke (Atherton and Cooke were brothers-in-law) to join him in organizing a new bank in the Islands. (BOH)
Like any bank, Bank of Hawai‘i could not grow unless the community it served grew, a dependence that was directly related to the growth of Hawai‘i’s pineapple industry.
During the first years of the 20th century, at roughly the same time the territory’s political leaders first pushed for statehood, advances in the efficiency of canning methods fueled the expansion of pineapple production.
Sugar production increased as well, providing the seeds for Bank of Hawai‘i’s growth: waves of new immigrants and new businesses, both attracted by the flourishing pineapple and sugar industries. With it brought waves of immigrants to the Islands.
Between 1900 and 1940, the territory’s population increased substantially, nearly tripling from 154,001 to 422,770. The growth in population represented the growth of the bank’s potential customer base, providing a fertile economic climate that enabled Bank of Hawai‘i to establish itself as the territory’s largest bank.
Competition was strong; when Castle & Cooke found itself in ‘grave financial difficulties’ because of the expenses of Ewa Sugar Plantations, Bishop and Co refused to grant the firm an advance. Then the bank bounced a $54 Castle & Cooke check.
So when the fortunes of Ewa Plantations turned around, Castle & Cooke decided it was time to teach Bishop and Company a lesson.
Castle & Cooke withdrew all of the firm’s funds and walked back through the streets of Honolulu with a wheelbarrow full of gold coins to be deposited in the new Bank of Hawai‘i. Bank of Hawai‘i went on to finance the Alexander Young Hotel, and the Moana Hotel in Waikiki. (SB)
In 1903, Bank of Hawai‘i opened its first branch office in Lihue, Kauai. Later (1922,) it merged with First Bank of Hilo, acquiring branches in Hilo, Honokaʻa, Kohala, Kealakekua and Kāʻu.
That year (1922,) it completed construction of its main office; it’s site was where the old Paki house, ‘Haleakala,’ onetime home of Charles Reed Bishop and Bernice Pauahi Bishop once sttod. Hānai daughter of the Paki’s was Lili‘uokalani, later to be Hawai‘i’s last queen. (SB)
Bank of Hawai‘i milestones included being designated as the official depository for the US Navy, Pacific Theater in 1942 and being the first bank in Hawai‘i to establish a consumer loan department in 1946.
In 1966, Bank of Hawai‘i President Wilson Cannon Jr. added meaning to Aloha Friday when he began allowing employees to wear aloha shirts on the last business day of the week. (PBN)
Bank of Hawai‘i moved into new, modern headquarters in the Financial Plaza of the Pacific in 1968, located in almost the exact same site as Bank of Hawai‘i’s office when it was first founded.
The complex includes three buildings: the six-story Bank of Hawai‘i, the twenty-one-story Pacific Century Tower (originally the Castle and Cooke Tower – on the site where the former Castle & Cooke building once stood (1924-1966)) and the twelve-story American Savings and Loan Association Building. (Hibbard)
Bank of Hawai‘i is the primary subsidiary of Bank of Hawai‘i Corporation, a regional bank holding company. Bank of Hawai‘i Corporation through its subsidiaries provides varied financial services to businesses, consumers and governments in Hawaii, American Samoa and the Pacific Islands.
The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange as “BOH.” In the community, Bank of Hawaii is also affectionately known as “Bankoh.” (BOH)