Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, January 11, 1999

By Kathyrn Bender, Star-Bulletin
A cannon at Walker Park near Amfac
Center is a remnant from fort days.

Big guns on
the waterfront

It's hard enough finding the front door to the featureless AmFac Center. Then if you sneak around back it's guarded by a cannon! The 18th-century naval ordnance piece proudly takes aim at the Aloha Tower clock.

Art The cannon, which dominates triangle-shaped Walker Park, actually predates AmFac Center. The provenance is confusingly tracked, but it appears to be one of 40 pieces acquired for a fort built in 1817. You think Fort Street is called that for no reason?

The cannon barrels scattered; some were turned to hitching racks and corner bumpers (you can still see some of the muzzles sticking out of downtown sidewalks), and some were carted up to Punchbowl, where they boomed salutes to incoming ships.

In 1938, Mayor Charles Crane had one of the Punchbowl cannons mounted on a reproduction naval carriage and placed in the triangle park as a historical marker.

Two sister cannons are also on display, one at Fort Shafter and one at the Army Museum in Fort DeRussy.

The downtown cannon was moved only once, when it was stolen as an elaborate prank in 1971 and towed to the front yard of businessman Vance Cannon, ha ha!

According to Ann Hayashi, of the City's Culture and the Arts office, the cannon is city property, but no effort is made to maintain it.

The cannon is black, but for many years the muzzle face, breech and cascabel have been painted a bogus silver color. "Highly unlikely," sniffed artillery expert John Martini, military curator of the Presidio. "Military cannons of that era are almost always basic black."

Martini suggested the Honolulu cannon be preserved by stripping it down to bare metal, perhaps given a cathodic bath to drive out salts in the metal, then painted with "good ol' semi-gloss black Rustoleum. We haven't found anything better!"

Burl Burlingame, Star-Bulletin

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