Joseph William Podmore was an English sailor who became a clerk for JT Waterhouse & Co from 1886 to 1900. He then opened his own firm for insurance, shipping, commission, and as agent of the Anglo-American Crockery & Glass Co. of San Francisco. He was active as a real estate investor in the early 1900s.
On February 26, 1902, Peter Cushman Jones, Ltd. leased the vacant lot it owned at Merchant and Alakea Streets to Podmore.
The lease was for a period of twenty-five years from April 1, 1902 at $60 per month net rent, with the condition that Podmore “within six months from April 1, 1902 at his own cost and charge, erect and complete a good and substantial building .., and shall lay out and expend therein not less than $7,000.”
The April 17, 1902 Advertiser listed a building permit issued to Lee Wai for a 2-story store at 901 Alakea Street. Apparently, PC Jones, Ltd. lent Podmore part of the money to construct the building, for on June 25, 1902 Podmore mortgaged his lease to PC Jones, Ltd.
It was called the Podmore Building.
It is believed that the building was built for investment, as Podmore was not an occupant. The City Directory of 1903-04 lists merchant tailor Joseph P Rodrigues as occupying the corner store, with Edward C Rowe, a painter, paperhanger and decorator occupying the mauka office. The upstairs was occupied from 1902-06 by the Mercantile Printing Co, Ltd.
The Podmore Building is a two story cut stone building constructed primarily of Hawaiian blue-gray basalt, measuring 72 feet by 34 feet, with a hip roof, situated at the northeast corner of Merchant and Alakea Streets.
The building is representative of a style of rusticated stone construction utilized for commercial buildings in Hawaii from 1894 to 1907, derived from the Romanesque Style popularized by Henry Hobson Richardson.
The building is characterized by massive, rough-faced stonework, sparse ornamentation, a flat facade divided by symmetrical windows and storefront openings, with arches over the entry doors to the second floor stairway, and a stone railing parapet with peaked capstones at the corners and midpoint of the facades.
The masonry work was typical in Honolulu when Hawaiian basalt was widely used for durable construction, with five quarries in operation on Oʻahu. The stone was finished and dressed by hand at the construction site, with much of the work performed by immigrant Portuguese stonemasons.
The massive stones were lifted into position by block and tackle from wooden hoists and scaffolds. Its use was discontinued due to economic considerations and the tendency of some stones to explode if heated by a fire and then doused with water.
On the curb on Alakea Street, between King and Merchant, in Honolulu, fronting this area is evidence of other aspects of old-Honolulu – remnants of the tethering rings. (By the 1840s, the use of introduced horses, mules and bullocks for transportation was increasing; circular indentations in curbs adjoining streets show the location of hitching rings used to tether horses outside businesses.)
(In 1868, horse-drawn carts operated by the Pioneer Omnibus Line went into operation in Honolulu, beginning the first public transit service in the Hawaiian Islands; the first automobile arrived in October 1899 (it was steam-powered,) the first gasoline-powered automobile arrived in the Islands in 1900.)
During 1906-07 Podmore apparently sold his lease back to Jones. On February 7, 1907 Jones donated the land and building to the Hawaiian Board of Missions for use as a permanent home. From March 1907 until April 1916 the Hawaiian Board of Missions used the property as their headquarters.
“The Hawaiian Board is the organization which carries on the home missionary work of the Congregational Church throughout the Territory of Hawaiʻi. The full name of this organization is The Board of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association. This Board is the child of the early mission begun in 1820 by the American Board of Foreign Missions; not only the child, but the direct successor and inheritor of that great enterprise.” (Erdman, The Friend, April 1, 1937)
The property was purchased by Charles M. Cooke, Ltd. in 1913. The Board continued to rent the premises until the completion of the new Mission Memorial Building on Beretania Street in 1916.
In 1924 the property was purchased by the Advertiser Publishing Co. Ltd who owned the adjacent property where the Honolulu Advertiser was published until 1928.
The Podmore building is included in Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation’s ‘Historic Downtown Honolulu’s Self-Guided Tour. Tour documents twenty-five historic sites along a 3-mile route in historic Downtown Honolulu.
(Lots of information here from NPS.)
The image shows the Podmore Building. In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.