Honolulu Hale torn down to build a parking lot, 1917.

Historic Building  of ’30s to Be Razed Soon
Honolulu Hale Sold to Frank Godfrey for $10

Honolulu Hale, build about 1836 by Kamehameha III, which was sold today for $10.

Historic Honolulu Hale sold for $10 to one lone bidder Frank Godfrey, today at noon when King Kalakaua’s dinner bell called together a small group of spectators to witness the last event in the life of the building. Within 60 days the building will be torn down and the ground upon which it stands will be cleared of all traces of it, according tothe agreement which the purchaser signed after the auction. The auction was conducted by Elmer L. Schwarzberg of James F. Morgan Co. and in the curious crowd were a number of Honolulu’s kamaainas—old-timers.

Godfrey, former newspaperman and author, has lived through many of the scenes which made the building locally famous.

Built by Kamehameha III some time between the years of 1833 and 1836 (there are no records to show the exact date), Honolulu Hale has stood through the years as a landmark defying the march of progress but now its end is near.

For many years the Honolulu Hale housed the offices of the old Hawaiian government. Later it was used as the customs house and before the present postoffice was built it occupied the ewa end while Henry M. Whitney owned a book store and published the Pacific Commercial Advertiser in the other end. In 1887 it was the meeting place for the revolutionary party which forced the king togive the haoles greater rights and in the tower their arms and ammunition were stored. Many lawyers now prominent in legal circles here had offices there. Among these was W. R. Castle.

The building was erected by Kamehameha III and owned by him or his estate until June 13, 1884 when it was sold to the government for $27,000. Queen Emma, Mrs. B. P. Bishop and C. R. Bishop signing the deed.

There are many stories told of how Kamehameha used the building to raise money but, according to the records at the archives, the following are the facts. In September 1851 Kamehameha secured a loan from the minister of finance of $3,000 at one per cent a month for eight months. At the end of the eight months he was evidently unable to pay the debt and there was some talk in the privy council on the question of selling the building. Instead, however, he was loaned $9,000 more at 12 per cent a year for two years and the $3,000 was included in the mortgage. When this debt was paid is not exactly clear but as far as can be ascertained it was probably settled up at his death.

In 1845 the government leased the building but did not move in until the next year when the several departments were formed. Kamehameha was paid $1,000 a month for its use.

The order for its demolition came Thursday from the U. S. government which owns the site and building on a request from the health deparment which has declare it unsafe and insanitary.

When the Honolulu Hale is sold at public auction by Elmer L. Schwarzberg of James F. Morgan Co., the old dinner bell of King Kalakaua will be used to call bidders together.

Its site will be used as a parking place for vehicles.

(Star-Bulletin, 7/2/1917, p. 3)


Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Volume XXV, Number 7868, Page 3. July 2, 1917.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s