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Sunday, April 25, 2004



[ A WALKING TOUR ]

Holoholo Honolulu


Archives built to house
monarchy files


How do we even know a monarchy ever existed in Hawaii? Largely because of the Hawaiian passion for passing down memories and the European mania for creating paperwork. After Hawaii was annexed by the United States, there was a real fear among representatives of the new territorial government that Hawaii's records would be seized by the feds and transported to the mainland or destroyed.

Part of the problem was that records of the monarchy years -- and the provisional government -- were gathering dust in the attic of Iolani Palace. They needed a safe repository. Money that was set aside to create a structure was quickly contracted out three days before it reverted to the territorial treasury, and work started in 1905.

The fireproof structure was designed by public-works wiz O.A. Traphagen and took 18 months to build. It is the first building in the United States designed specifically for the archiving of public records.

A debate raged while it was under construction. Was it to be an "archive" -- a living, centralized repository for continuing scholarship -- or a "Hall of Records," used as a deep-storage vault by independent government agencies?

At one point the builders were preparing to chisel a "Hall of Records" inscription over the entrance, but it was changed at the last moment to "Archives."

When the Archives building was opened for public inspection in late August 1906, the ancestor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin noted that it was "highly creditable to the public sentiment of the Territory. It is evidence of a recognition of the value of the treasures that are to be stored in it."

Today, the "old" Archives is used as the offices of the Friends of Iolani Palace and for public lectures. A "new" Archives building is located nearby.

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Archives of Hawaii

Opened: 1906
Architect: Oliver Traphagen
Style: Renaissance Revival
Address: 364 S. King St.
National Register: No
Hawaii Register: No



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BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM
Construction of the Archives building was started in 1905 to house Hawaii's governmental records, due to fear they would be destroyed by the incoming territorial government.



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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.


See Holoholo Honolulu for past articles.

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