Holoholo Honolulu
A walking tour

By the 1930s, the Star-Bulletin building featured a false top and a hanging portico-type arcade entrance with pedimental decorations. The second floor was devoted to law offices.

Star-Bulletin’s former
home has endured

While the major industries in Hawaii were building edifices to their greatness on Bishop Street, just around the corner was the older financial heart of Honolulu, a row of buildings on the aptly named Merchant Street.

First on the list is the old Honolulu Star-Bulletin Building at 125 Merchant St. It's a straightforward, businesslike box that is less glamorous than its neighbors. The architect is unknown, and some references have it built in 1902, others in 1912. It was originally built to house the staff of the Hawaiian Star, which merged with the Daily Bulletin -- the oldest daily newspaper in Hawaii -- to became the Honolulu Star-Bulletin late in 1912.

Outlet manager Mary Sayson of Young Laundry holds up a picture of the Star-Bulletin newsroom in 1916. The pillars in the wall behind her are all that remain of the original newsroom.

The building backs into the original Star-Bulletin press building fronting Queen Street. Designed in 1916 by the architectural firm Ripley & Davis -- who may have designed the news building as well -- the press building is much changed today and has a completely different facade. The press itself was later moved to an eastern Hotel Street site, where the Municipal Building stands today.

The Star-Bulletin Building housed the newsroom on the first floor and leased out the second floor to Japanese and Hawaiian law firms for most its existence. By the mid-'50s the newsroom had moved to the second floor of the press building and was accessed by a small alley between it and the Alexander & Baldwin Building. There was a rooftop cafeteria hidden behind a false front that made the building seem several feet taller than it was. The rooftop false front is now gone.

The pillars are also visible in this newsroom picture from 1955.

Today the building houses several small businesses, including a Reyn's outlet on the first floor and the Ostrander & Chu advertising agency on the second floor, where little remains of the original architecture. On the first floor, the distinctive support pillars running down the center of the building -- a feature visible in all newsroom photographs -- can be made out in the wall separating Professional Image and Young Laundry.

In 1962, Honolulu's two daily newspapers merged operations, and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin news staff moved to the News Building at 605 Kapiolani Blvd., where they stayed until their joint operating agreement ended in early 2001, when the Star-Bulletin editorial and business staff moved to Restaurant Row.

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 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.



E-mail to Features Editor


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