Charles Reed Bishop was born January 25, 1822 in Glens Falls, New York; his father was a toll collector who worked on a toll booth in the middle of the Hudson River. Glens Falls was later known as “Hometown USA,” a title given to it by Look Magazine in 1944.
Shortly after his brother was born (1824,) his mother became ill and died a few weeks later. Her older sister, Lucy, takes the two-year old to Fort Ann, New York to live with her awhile.
He then went to live with his paternal grandfather, Jesse. He didn’t have much schooling, attending Glens Falls Academy for 7th and 8th grades, his only years of formal schooling.
After leaving school, he was a clerk for Nelson J Warren, the largest business in Warrensburgh, New York. He learns bartering, bookkeeping, taking inventory, maintenance and janitorial duties.
At about the age of 20 (in 1842,) the younger worked as a bookkeeper and head clerk for Charles Dewey in the Old Stone Store in Sandy Hill.
He then sailed (February 23, 1846) for the continent’s west coast aboard the ‘Henry,’ however the ship needed extensive repairs and landed at Honolulu Harbor on October 12, 1846.
He became ‘Hawaiʻi’s First Banker’ and formed Bishop & Co Bank in 1858. The Bishop Bank Building at 63 Merchant Street was the earliest of the Italianate (or Renaissance Revival) structures on the street, built in 1878 and designed by Thomas J. Baker (one of the architects of ʻIolani Palace.)
In 1895, Samuel M Damon bought Bishop & Co. from founder Charles Bishop. After the turn of the century the bank started opening neighbor island branches, including the Waimea branch on Kauai in 1911.
The Waimea branch at one time served the entire island of Kauai. As the economy of the island developed, however, additional branches on that and other islands were opened. The Bank incorporated as Bank of Bishop & Co. Ltd in 1919.
(After some mergers, in 1956 it was renamed Bishop National Bank of Hawai‘i; in 1960, First National Bank of Hawai‘i; then, in 1969, First Hawaiian Bank.) (FHB)
“One of the oldest and most reliable banking institutions in the Territory is Bishop’s Bank. With head offices in Honolulu, it has branch banks in Waimea, Kauai, and Hilo, Hawaii, both of which are conducted in the same prompt and highly satisfactory manner.”
“The bank issues Commercial and travelers’ Letters of credit, available to all parts of the world. All business entrusted to this institution or to either of its branch houses, receives prompt attention.” (The Garden Island, April 29, 1913)
On December 29, 1929, construction was completed on the Bishop National Bank of Hawaii’s Waimea Branch. It replaced an earlier structure on the same site which had been built in 1911.
Its eclectic style and solid, imposing appearance is typical of post-World War I banking architecture. It is designed to give an aura of permanence and stability a visual assurance to Waimea’s inhabitants that the bank was ‘here to stay.’ (NPS)
Like many buildings in Waimea, the first floor was constructed three feet off the ground to protect against flooding. This presented an opportunity for the architect to create an important entry porch.
Stairs lead up to the main entry, which is flanked on each side by two classic columns of simple Ionic order supporting an entablature above which a dental cornice with crown mould surrounds the building, topped by a partially balustraded parapet.
Although a small structure, it contributes a sense of permanence and solidity. The exterior has retained most of its original appearance; however, extensive remodeling to the bank interior has altered the appearance from the typical 1920s era banking structure.