In 1865, the board of education adopted a policy of separating school children by sex, and the Town Free School became the Mililani Girls School. (Town Free School was successor of Oʻahu Charity School – the first English-language-focused school, primarily for half-Hawaiian/half-foreign children.)
Most all the boys were sent to the Royal School; however, some of the students instead went to the Fort Street School, a newly formed private school.
In 1873, the Fort Street School went public, and in 1895 was split to create Kaʻiulani Elementary and the islands’ first public high school – Honolulu High School.
“The Honolulu High School is especially adapted to the needs of those who speak the English language as a mother tongue and to no others. It accommodates but passably a few of the exceptionally bright pupils of the much larger class who have the language to learn after entering school.”
“Taking into account the number of English speaking persons in Honolulu, it will be observed that the high school is of very creditable size.” (Report of the Minister of Public Instruction, 1899)
The high school met at the former palace of Princess Ruth on Emma Street (Keoua Hale) until 1908. At that time a new structure was built across from Thomas Square (at the corner of Beretania and Victoria streets – in William Maertens’ former home, where the University of Hawaiʻi started.)
The high school moved in and it was renamed President William McKinley High School, after President William McKinley, whose influence brought about the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the US.
The building served that function until the larger, present McKinley High was erected in 1923. At this time, the school was renamed Linekona (Lincoln) Elementary; it was the main elementary school in Honolulu. (NPS)
“A very marked improvement has been attained in the architecture of buildings recently erected in Hawaiʻi and the school-houses, constructed within the last few years, have kept pace with the movement. This is notably true of the imposing … building which compares most favorably with any of its kind in the world.”
“This structure, built of hollow concrete blocks, is two stories high and contains eight properly ventilated well-equipped class-rooms, a physical and a chemical laboratory, an up-to-date commercial department, a library and a comfortable and spacious assembly hall.”
“In addition there is a principal’s office, ladies’ retiring room, each provided with all conveniences, two hat rooms for the use of students, a specimen and apparatus room for the physics laboratory, a private chemistry laboratory and a dark room connected with the chemical laboratory.”
“The stage in the assembly hall is fourteen by twenty-four feet provided with a sliding curtain. The hat rooms are furnished with shelves and hooks for hanging garments and also umbrella racks.”
“The toilets have enameled closets without wooden tops, and rooms with shower baths are in one corner. The building is lighted throughout with electricity.”
“The ceilings and walls are plastered and tinted with colors pleasing to the eye. A wainscot extends from the floor to the blackboard and all the woodwork throughout the building is natural finish.”
“Large windows admit an abundance of light and these, together with the open transoms on the inside walls of the rooms assure good ventilation.” (King; Thrum, 1908)
The building housed Linekona School until 1956 when a new elementary school (renamed President Abraham Lincoln Elementary School) was built on Auwaiolimu Drive.
In 1957, the former Ala Moana School, which taught children with learning difficulties, occupied the building. Starting in the early 1970s, the building was used to teach English as a second language. (NPS)
In 1990, the building was renovated as the “Academy Art Center at Linekona,” the largest art private school in Hawaiʻi, under the administration of the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
The building is now used as the Honolulu Museum of Art School, reaching out to children and adults through studio art classes, workshops with visiting artists, school programs, outreach programs and exhibitions.
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Bobby Command says
Unfortunately, Linekona carries a stigma among people my age who were born in Honolulu. It was where special needs students went to school. Of course, we used quite a few politically incorrect terms when referring to children who went to Linekona.
Howard D. Lee says
I attended Lincoln Elementary School between 1950-55 then went on to Central Intermediate. What a great school it was with it’s large classrooms, wide hallways an stairways. I was in the JPO’s and we would raise the flag each morning on top of the balcony, while the speakers would play the Stars Spangled Banner and all the kids would stop what they were doing, face the flag and put their right hand on their chest. Of course all our teachers were old and white. There was also an “L” row of wooden classrooms behind the stone building. And what about those spiral metal fire escapes.