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Sunday, October 19, 2003



[ A WALKING TOUR ]

Holoholo Honolulu


Melchers is
Honolulu’s oldest
commercial building


Sometimes, buildings are historic from the day they're built, due to architectural significance, or they're the site of a momentous event -- or just because they've always been there.

The Melchers Building fits the latter.

It's the oldest commercial building in Honolulu, erected in 1854, which means it's older than almost everything else in Honolulu as well. It was created the year Kamehameha II died, the year Admiral Perry "reopened" Japan.

As a building, it's an average example of a 19th-century commercial structure; simple, unassuming, only a couple of stories tall, because there was no perceived need for more floors at the time, and because the structure isn't stressed for it.

Built to house the retail firm of Melchers and Reiner, the building is made of coral stone blocks, but the texture vanished years ago under layers of stucco and paint.

At one point, the bottom Merchant Street windows were bricked up and an aluminum frame tacked on around the recessed door entry, but these have been restored to their original blockhouse appearance.

It once held the City Prosecutors' office, and still is used by City government.

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Melchers Building

Opened:
1854

Architect:
Unknown

Style:
19th Century Commercial

Address:
51 Merchant Street

National Register:
1973 (District #73000661)

Hawaii Register:
No



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art
HAWAII STATE ARCHIVES
In 1969, the Melchers Building had its street windows bricked up and a police call box outside the door.


art
BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM
Today, the windows have been reopened and the structure looks much like it did in its pre-Civil War days.



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Quicktime VR Panorama
Click on pictures to view panaromas

BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM



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 Historic Hawai'i Foundation and supported by the city's Office of Economic Development. The yearlong project commemorates Honolulu's bicentennial.


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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.


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

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

E-mail:
bburlingame@starbulletin.com

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