Sunday, August 24, 2003

Holoholo Honolulu
A walking tour

Lincoln Rogers' design for the Dillingham Transportation Building used Italian and Spanish elements for a tropical feeling.

Dillingham building’s
style evokes 1920s

Dillingham Transportation Building

Date of completion: 1929
Architect: Lincoln Rogers
Address: 735 Bishop St.
Primary tenant: Miscellaneous businesses
National register: 1979

At the time the Dillingham Transportation Building was completed in 1929, the Dillingham family was deeply involved in transportation, so it seemed logical to dub the structure after the family business.

There are other clues to its provenance as well: Located at the foot of Bishop Street nearest the piers, the street openings are decorated with a twisted-rope pattern and large medallions featuring sailing and steam ships. The glazed bricks in the arcade area suggest ship's compasses.

The building is a prime example of the kind of Mediterranean Revival/Italian Renaissance architecture that dominated large Hawaii buildings in the 1920s. Mediterranean and Spanish Mission architecture seemed tropical and appropriate to Hawaii's climate and the closest thing traditional European architecture had to offer Hawaii. Such buildings featured hipped roofs, arched arcades, ornately playful decorative motifs and a sense of airiness despite their solidity and bulk.

The entrance lobby and arcade is particularly entertaining, with Art Deco patterns of variously colored marbles and bricks, and paneled beams of red, gold, black and green designs.

When the Dillingham building opened in 1929, it anchored the business district of downtown Honolulu with pier-side shipping.

The elevator doors are cast aluminum, and look for a plaque dedicated to Benjamin Franklin Dillingham, founder of Oahu Railway & Land Co.

The building's splendor is largely limited to the ground floor. The other floors are relatively simple and functional in design.

The Dillingham Transportation Building shares arcade space with the nearby Pacific Guardian Building, whose street address is "through" the Dillingham lobby.

Although the arcade is open to the street, photography is discouraged by security guards.

Arched entrances into the building lobby are crowned with medallions celebrating ocean travel.

Every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin Travel section, rediscover the charms of old Hawaii through a tour created by the Honolulu Historic Trail Committee and supported by the city's Office of Economic Development. One site will be featured weekly in a year-long project commemorating Honolulu's bicentennial.


See Honolulu city highlights

Various Honolulu historical organizations have clamored for years to have some sort of survey created of downtown Honolulu's historical sites. The mayor's Office of Economic Development stepped in last year to create order, and 50 locations were chosen as representative of Honolulu's history.

There is, of course, far more history in Honolulu's streets than indicated here, but these sites give the high points and can be visited on a walking tour lasting about three hours.

Click to view enlarged map

To commemorate Honolulu's bicentennial, the Star-Bulletin kicks off "Holoholo Honolulu" today, a year-long project to examine these historic properties. For the next 50 Sundays in the Travel section, stories and photographs will illuminate these sites.

But that's just the tip of the architectural iceberg. Viewers can step right into these locations via the magic of QuickTime Virtual Reality, a computer process that allows visitors from around the world to feel as if they're standing right there on the street.

Quicktime VR Panorama
Click on pictures to view panaromas


WE'RE ALSO looking for old photographs of these sites to scan for public use. If you have anything, let us know:

Write to:
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
7-210 Waterfront Plaza
500 Ala Moana
Honolulu, HI 96813.


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