Charles John Wall was born in Dublin, Ireland, on December 23, 1827. He married Elizabeth Evans (Miller) Wall; they had 10-children: Thomas E Wall; Emily Wall; Charles Wall; William Albert Wall; Henry Wall; Walter (Walt) Eugene Wall; Arthur Frederick Wall; Alford Wall; Ormand E Wall and Alice Wall
In 1880, the family came to Honolulu by way of California. Wall (and some of his children) left some important legacies in Hawaiʻi. Charles was an important nineteenth century Honolulu architect, some of the buildings he designed are still here; several have been lost, but not forgotten.
Charles J Wall participated, or led the design of ʻIolani Palace, Kaumakapili Church, Lunalilo Home and the Music Hall/Opera House.
The design and construction of the ʻIolani Palace took place from 1879 through 1882; three architects were involved: Thomas J Baker, Charles J Wall and Isaac Moore. The Baker design generally held in the final work.
A quarrel broke out between Baker, Samuel C Wilder (Minister of the Interior) and the Superintendent of Public Works. Shortly after the cornerstone was laid on December 31, 1879; Baker apparently ended his connection with the Palace.
He was succeeded by Wall, who had recently arrived in the Islands and was “employed to make the detail drawings from the first architect’s plans.”
According to the March 31, 1880 Hawaiian Gazette, Wall had “skillfully modified and improved” some of the objectionable features of the original design. (Peterson) Wall was succeeded by Isaac Moore after about nine months.
ʻIolani Palace was the official residence of both King Kalākaua and Queen Lili‘uokalani. After the overthrow of the monarchy, ʻIolani Palace became the government headquarters for the Provisional Government, Republic, Territory and State of Hawai‘i.
During WWII, it served as the temporary headquarters for the military governor in charge of martial law in the Hawaiian Islands. Government offices vacated the Palace in 1969 and moved to the newly constructed capitol building on land adjacent to the Palace grounds.
Starting in 1837, “the common Hawaiian folk of Honolulu” started petitioning Rev. Hiram Bingham, head of the Hawaiian Mission, to establish a second church or mission in Honolulu (Kawaiahaʻo being the first.)
It started as a thatched-roof adobe structure erected in 1839 on the corner of Smith and Beretania Streets. The adobe building was torn down in 1881 to make way for a new brick edifice.
King Kalākaua took great interest in the church and wanted an imposing church structure with two steeples. His argument was, “…that as a man has two arms, two eyes, two ears, two legs, therefore, a church ought to have two steeples.”
The cornerstone for the new church was laid on September 2, 1881 by Princess Liliʻuokalani (on her birthday.) Seven years later the new building was completed.
It was an imposing landmark, first of its kind, and visible to arriving vessels and land travelers. It was dedicated on Sunday, June 10, 1888. In January, 1900, disaster struck. The Chinatown fire engulfed the entire building leaving only the brick walls standing.
On May 7, 1910, the congregation broke ground for the third church building. It was dedicated on June 25, 1911, the same day in which the 89th Annual Conference of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association (ʻAha Paeʻaina) was hosted by the church.
The coronation of William Charles Lunalilo took place at Kawaiahaʻo Church in a simple ceremony on January 9, 1873. He was to reign as King for one year and twenty-five days, succumbing to pulmonary tuberculosis on February 3, 1874.
His estate included large landholdings on five major islands, consisting of 33 ahupuaʻa, nine ‘ili and more than a dozen home lots. His will established a perpetual trust under the administration of three trustees to be appointed by the justices of the Hawaiian Supreme Court.
Lunalilo was the first of the large landholding aliʻi to create a charitable trust for the benefit of his people. The purpose of his trust was to build a home to accommodate the poor, destitute and infirm people of Hawaiian (aboriginal) blood or extraction, with preference given to older people.
In 1879 the land for the first Lunalilo Home was granted to the estate by the Hawaiian government and consisted of 21 acres in Kewalo, near the present Roosevelt High School.
The construction of the first Lunalilo Home at that site was paid for by the sale of estate lands. The Home was completed in 1883 to provide care for 53 residents. An adjoining 39 acres for pasture and dairy was conveyed by the legislative action to the Estate in 1888.
After 44 years, the Home in Kewalo (mauka) had deteriorated and became difficult and costly to maintain. The trustees located a new 20-acre site in Maunalua on the slopes of Koko Head.
Music Hall – Opera House
In 1881, a Music Hall was built across the street from ʻIolani Palace, where Ali‘i regularly joined the audiences at performances. Queen Lili‘uokalani is even said to have written her own opera. (Ferrar) It was built by the Hawaiian Music Hall Association.
The building was first called the Music Hall, but shortly after its transfer to new owners, the name was changed to the Royal Hawaiian Opera House. (Daily Bulletin, February 12, 1895)
Despite its name, the Opera House was not primarily a venue for classical entertainment. Many of its bookings were melodramas and minstrel shows, two very popular forms of theater at the time. Then, it was the first house to show moving pictures in Hawaiʻi.
The building was of brick 120 by 60 feet on the ground floor and walls forty feet high and twenty inches thick. The front door was ten feet wide, opening into a vestibule 16 by 27 feet. The seating capacity of the house was 671 persons. The stage was forty feet deep and provided with a complete set of scenery, traps and all necessary paraphernalia. (Hawaiian Star, February 12, 1895)
“Originally there were two (private) boxes. One on the right of the stage looking out was regarded as the property of the late King Kalākaua, who had subscribed liberally to the stock of the Association. The box on the opposite side was owned by the present proprietors, Messrs. Irwin & Spreckels. About two years ago two boxes wore opened above those mentioned for letting to whomever first applied for thorn on any occasion.” (Daily Bulletin, February 12, 1895)
Wall died at Honolulu on December 26, 1884.
The image shows some of Wall’s designs – ʻIolani Palace, Kaumakapili Church, Lunalilo Home and the Opera House. In addition, I have added others similar images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.