Today, Washington Intermediate and Liholiho Elementary serve their respective communities in Pawaʻa and Kaimuki.
But they weren’t known as such (at least by conflicting claims of the City and Territory.) Depending on who you talked to, each was known as Cummins School, named after John Adams Kuakini Cummins.
Cummins, born March 17, 1835 in Honolulu, was a namesake of Hawaii Island Governor John Adams Kuakini (1789–1844 – Queen Ka‘ahumanu’s brother,) who had taken the name of John Quincy Adams when Americans were settling on the Islands in the 1820s.
In the 1840s, Cummins’ father (Thomas Jefferson Cummins (1802–1885)) first developed a cattle ranch and horse ranch on the windward side. By the 1880s, facing diminishing, John began to grow sugar cane in place of cattle. That plantation was known as the Waimanalo Sugar Company.
On June 17, 1890, Cummins became Minister of Foreign Affairs in King Kalākaua’s cabinet. When Kalākaua died and Queen Liliʻuokalani came to the throne in early 1891, she replaced all the ministers.
Cummins resigned February 25, 1891. He was replaced by Samuel Parker who was another part-Hawaiian. (There is a photo of both Cummins and Parker serving as kāhili bearers for Keʻelikōlani (Princess Ruth.))
Cummins supported the constitutional monarchy; after the overthrow in early 1893, Liliʻuokalani asked Cummins to travel to the continent to lobby for its restoration. Cummins died March 21, 1913. His great-grandson was Mayor Neal Blaisdell.
OK, back to the schools … here’s how the confusion, and correction, came about:
Both schools were built the same year, 1926.
Back then, the Territorial Department of Public Instruction (now the DOE) provided the instruction in schools and the City, through the Board of Supervisors (now the County Council,) owned the school properties and buildings.
The Department named the Pawaʻa school first – consistent with their policy, they called it Washington Intermediate (it was the first Intermediate school on O‘ahu.)
However, the Board of Supervisors wanted the school to be called Cummins Intermediate. (The Pawaʻa school is built on land that was formerly owned by Cummins and the City wanted to recognize that.)
Actually, before Cummins owned it, Anthony D Allen (a former slave from the continent) had his home there (including about a dozen other houses.) Several references note his property as a “resort;” “… it is a favourite resort of the more respectable of the seamen who visit Honoruru. …” (Reverend Charles Stewart) It may have been Waikiki’s first hotel.
Allen entertained often and made his property available for special occasions. “King (Kauikeaouli – Kamehameha III) had a Grand Dinner at AD Allen’s. The company came up at sunset. Music played very late.” (Reynolds – Scruggs, HJH)
Missionaries Hiram and Sybil Bingham (my great-great-great grandparents) also visited. Sybil noted in her diary, “He set upon the table decanters and glasses with wine and brandy to refresh us”. They ended dinner “with wine and melons”.
OK, back to the new schools … as a compromise to the naming issue, the Department kept the Washington name for the Pawaʻa school and named the new elementary school in Kaimuki, Cummins School.
That didn’t go over very well with the City and County and they refused to recognize the name – and they continued to call the Pawaʻa school Cummins Junior High School, while the Territory called that school Washington Intermediate.
The Kaimuki school was referred to by the City and County as Liholiho School, and the Territorial Department of Public Instruction called it Cummins School.
To further add to the confusion, the PTA for the Kaimuki school was known as the ‘Liholiho Parent Teacher Association of Cummins School.’
Effectively, there were two Cummins Schools, depending on who you talked to. The issue was resolved (somewhat) in 1935.
“Ending a longstanding uncertainty, the public school at Maunaloa and 9th avenues, Kaimuki, which has been variously known as Cummins School and Liholiho School since its establishment several years ago, will henceforth be known as Liholiho School.”
For some, the Pawaʻa school on King Street continued to be called Cummins Junior High School, and the name appeared over its door, although the education department clung to its policy of naming Intermediate schools after American Presidents or members of the Hawaiian Royal family, and called it Washington.
Reconstruction of the buildings at Pawaʻa seemed to settle the matter and the school is now referred to as Washington Middle School; and, Liholiho Elementary continues to operate in Kaimuki.
Neither, now, is referred to as Cummins. (Lots of information here is from Star Bulletin, June 3, 1935.)