Honolulu Hale

Honolulu Hal’e Frontal View
Photo by: Joel Bradshaw, Creative Commons

The seat of government of the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii is the Honolulu Hale, located on number 530 South King Street. It is the site of the Mayor’s Chamber and the Honolulu City Council.

In the native language of Hawaiians, hale, pronounced as hah-leh, literally means building or house. Honolulu Hale was formerly called the Honolulu Municipal Building. It was included in the National Register of Historic Places in the year 1978 as a contributing property within the Capital Historic District of Hawaii.

Before becoming a mayor-council type of local government, the City of Honolulu was governed by a Board of Supervisors. The idea of turning it into a mayor-council government came from Joseph J. Fern, who was the Supervisor then. His vision was for the municipal government to have its permanent home for the convenience of the governing body.

The Board of Supervisors was dissolved in 1907 and Fern became the first ever mayor of the newly-established City & County of Honolulu. He initiated the preliminary planning of the construction of a city hall where the new administration can hold office and council meetings. Unfortunately, Fern died of diabetes in 1920 before the Honolulu Hale was even completed. It was the next mayor, John H. Wilson, who continued Fern’s vision and brought it to reality. Wilson was also the president of the Honolulu Chapter of the American Association of Engineers.

In the year 1928, Honolulu Hale was finally completed, thanks to the help of major architects in town, namely C.W. Dickey, Robert Miller, Rothwell Kangeter & Lester and Hart Wood. Although it was completely in 1928, it was officially opened to the public the following year. The building was built with Italian-Spanish Colonial Revival style, an architecture that was very popular on the island during that time. It has a classic appeal that is also very elegant.

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