I wasn’t sure what to call this post. It includes a little bit of history and is essentially a discussion of the evolution of the site and building that now houses the Hawai‘i State Art Museum.
The uses evolved from scattered homes to the Hawaiian Hotel to the Armed Forces YMCA to Hemmeter Corporation headquarters to No. 1 Capitol District Building, and now to the Hawai‘i State Art Museum and State offices.
Here’s a little bit of history.
Back in the mid-1800s, the growth of steamship travel between Hawai‘i and the West Coast of the United States, Australia and New Zealand caused a large increase in the number of visitors to the islands.
The arrival and departure of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain,) the Duke of Edinburgh and others included envoys, politicians, merchants and opportunists, created the need of good hotel accommodations to lodge similar visitors.
The Hawaiian Hotel was proposed in 1865, but not laid down until 1871. The Hotel was located on the Mauka-Ewa corner of Hotel Street and Richards Street and was formally opened by a ball on February 29, 1872.
The Hawaiian Hotel was later called the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, because King Kamehameha V felt adding “Royal” to the name would give it regal feel.
Therefore, first “Royal Hawaiian Hotel” was not in Waikīkī;l rather, it was in downtown Honolulu (the later one, in Waikīki, opened over fifty years later, in 1928.)
In 1879, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel was surrounded by dwellings, including several thatched-roof hale, but the hotel expanded over the next twenty years and replaced most of the residences.
Reportedly, Kalākaua kept a suite there; the Paradise of the Pacific noted it was “one of the coolest buildings in the city.” (I’m not sure that this is the same “cool” that I refer to as “waaay cool.”)
By 1900, the last dwellings and a doctor’s office were located on the corner of Beretania and Richards Streets. These were all gone by 1914.
In November 1917, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel was purchased by a group of local businessmen and became the official headquarters of the Armed Services YMCA in Hawai‘i.
In 1926, the hotel was demolished and the present building was constructed. The Army and Navy YMCA building was erected on the site of the former Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1927.
Through the middle of the century, the downtown “Y” was a popular destination for service men from all branches of the military.
By the mid-1970s, an increasing number of junior enlisted personnel were married with children.
The Armed Services YMCA responded to the changing needs of the military by opening family centers at Aliamanu Military Reservation, Iroquois Point Housing, Marine Corps Base Hawaii-Kaneohe, Wheeler/Schofield and Tripler Army Medical Center.
The building was rehabilitated in the late-1980s by Hemmeter Corporation, when it was renamed No. 1 Capitol District Building.
This remodeled office complex became the Hemmeter Corporation Building. After completion in 1988, the historic building served as Hemmeter Headquarters for several years.
Hemmeter Design Group earned national awards for the redevelopment of the historic YMCA building in downtown Honolulu.
Today, the Hawai’i State Art Museum (managed by the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts) and several State offices are housed in the historic Spanish-Mission style building.
The Hawai‘i State Art Museum opened in the fall of 2002. The museum is located on the second floor of the No. 1 Capitol District Building.
The museum houses three galleries featuring (and serves as the principal venue for) artworks from the Art in Public Places Collection.
The image shows the No. 1 Capitol District Building. In addition, I have added some related images and maps in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
Leave your comment here: