The first direct evidence of a clock on Island soil appears in a list of goods received by Kamehameha I at Lahaina in 1812, in return for a shipload of sandalwood. “Large public clocks first appeared in the 1840s and 1850s. In 1842, James Hunnewell presented Kawaiahaʻo Church with the large church clock on the gallery wall below the new organ.”
The public clock served the functional purpose of telling passers-by the time. But it also served as a village landmark, a reference point, and a symbol of civic pride. Indeed, public clocks were something of a status symbol for a community, a sign that a town had reached a certain level of prosperity, that there was action there. Our Lady of Peace Catholic Cathedral’s is the oldest tower clock in Hawai‘i. Others followed.