Press Release


PRESS RELEASE                                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

From: Richard Guffens <>

Subject: Fort Street’s Memory Lane

Date: December 14th, 2010 11:27 AM HST
To: John Heckathorn


 Honolulu, HI December 14th, 2010 – Fort Street Mall, located in downtown Honolulu, is walked upon by hundreds, maybe thousands, of students of Hawai’i Pacific University on a daily basis, but only a few of those students know the stories and history of Fort Street. Since 1968, when HPU moved to Fort Street, the street became a pedestrian walkway for students to walk safely, but the historical buildings remained on the street is roamed with homeless people and students. Now, the Business Improvement System is trying to clean up the image of Fort Street together with HPU to restore the historical status Fort Street deserves.


Whether the students of HPU are aware of the cultural richness surrounding them, Fort Street Mall has a lot more to offer other than food and bums. The Blaisdell Hotel for example, is more than just a building with an antique elevator. According to a story by the elevator operator, Jaivier Fombellida, the building is haunted: “During World War II, a sailor took a girl with him to one of the rooms and killed her in there.  People nowadays still see a girl walking around at times and once they turn around, she’s just gone, vanished.”


Another example of Fort Street’s rich history is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace. This particular cathedral was built on land that was given to the missionaries by King Kamehameha III in 1843 and is said to be the oldest Catholic cathedral still in use in the United States. The cathedral also harbors the oldest pipe organ of Hawai’i and when the sounds of the pipe organ echoes within the ancient walls of the cathedral, the place seems to come to life, according to reverend John Berger.

One of Fort Street’s main issues are the homeless people who can cause some disturbance to students and the companies located on Fort Street . But in order to guarantee the safety of Fort Street Mall as well as improving the appearance of it, the Business Improvement System (BIS) cannot simply discard all homeless people. “There is an Institute Human Service on Fort Street, which provides services people with mental disorders,” says Gene Yokoi, head of the BIS. “I want to make Fort Street Mall a stable place and bring in more businesses to keep the homeless people away.”

For further information, contact Richard Guffens at


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Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace: Its past, present and future

By: Jennifer Namer, Nicole Yuen, Richard Guffens and Geraldine Liew

Located at the end of Fort Street Mall in Downtown, Honolulu, lies a fascinating historical presence that triggers one’s curiosity of its background. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace is said to be the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States and one of the oldest existing buildings in the downtown area. It was dedicated under the patronage of Our Lady of Peace because the first Catholic missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands, members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary gave that title to their first foundation in a new land.  The Cathedral stands on land which was given to the missionaries by King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) when the mission was established in 1827. The Cathedral itself was formally dedicated on August 15, 1843.

Walking around on a private tour through the church, you can just feel the history inside the ancient walls. The church holds many artifacts such as the oldest pipe organ in Hawaii. According to Reverend John Berger, who has been with the church for the last 10 years, the cathedral comes to life when the organ is playing. “It is an experience that is really something”.

When asked about the impact Fort Street Mall has made on the church, Rev John says that it is a good thing Fort Street mall is here. “On Sundays there is no chaos, and it is very peaceful”. He described that if Fort Street would have stayed a street and not a mall, it would have been very difficult for the church being right on a street. This way allows no cars in front of it. The church also gets support from the campus ministry, and works with HPU on hosting certain events. For example, the schools Winter Choir Concert will be performed in the church.

Reverend John also explained to me some big plans to launch a renovation and restoration of the church. “The goal is to bring back the reference to the 19th century and to look like the time from when Father Damien was there” he said. That means restoring all of the stained-glass windows, as well as the beautiful 18kt golden covered angels on the ceiling.

The cathedral has had a great impact on the history of Fort Street Mall, and will continue to be a great landmark in Hawaiian history. Go experience it for yourself if you get a chance. The church is located at:

1184 Bishop Street

Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813.

Call (808) 536-7036 for any questions

Check out the interview with Reverend John here:

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Fort Street Mall: A Stroll Down Memory Lane

By: Geraldine Liew, Richard Guffens, Jennifer Namer and Nicole Yuen

Every Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) student knows where their classes and cheap food places are on Fort Street, but only a few actually understand the historical magnitude of this street.  HPU, one of the most diverse schools in Oahu, is located on a street where stories have become legends and where history was made.  In 1965, HPU was known as Hawaii Pacific College and was granted a charter as an independent, nonsectarian liberal arts college.  One year later, HPU and Honolulu Christian College merged into a single institution.  In 1968, HPU was moved to downtown Honolulu, on Fort Street and after this movement, HPU’s growth had rapidly increased at an average annual rate of over twenty percent in enrollment.

On 1968, Fort Street mall became a pedestrian walkway; taking a stroll down Fort Street Mall is like taking a stroll down memory lane, memories you never knew existed.  Those memories come from the history behind the buildings on Fort Street, histories one cannot even begin to comprehend.

One building that stands out on the street HPU students walk on every time they head to class, is the “Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace,” also known as a national historic landmark.  It is the oldest Roman Catholic Cathedral donated by Kamehameha III to help the rifts in his mission in 1831.  It was officially created on August 15, 1843.

On September 26, 1849, Captain Heinrich Hackfeld, son-in-law, J.C. Pflueger, and nephew, B.F. Ehlers, came to Honolulu, from Germany, to open Hackfeld’s Dry Goods, selling one of Hawai’i’s most vast goods and appliances. A year later, they moved their location to an opening on Fort Steet, renaming it “Hale Kilikia”, The House of Silk, with new manager, B.F. Ehlers. With new marketing strategies, like being the first commercial market that had full-length plate glass mirrors, Hale Kilikia was bring in more and more customers each day. In 1859, Heinrich Hackfeld became a member of the Honolulu’s Chamber of Commerce, which put a big mark on the Fort Street buisness. Unfortunately, parts of the store burned into flames in a 1897 fire. Coming into the holiday season, “Hale Kilikia” built a new floor for clothing and cook wear. Two years later, B.F.Ehlers & Co. celebrated its 50 year anniversary of all the success with a metal gate in the begining of Fort Street naming it, H H & CO Ltd. With years of difficulty and accomplishments, H H & CO. put a big stamp on Fort Street, now the little two story store, Hale kilikia is now, what we call, Macy’s and the metal gate is still there, accompanied by the same cannon that was there in 1899.

The BH building of HPU also has a great story behind it.  In 1912, the BH building was called the Blaisdell Hotel.  There’s an antique elevator that is manually ran by Jaivier Fombellida, who has been working there for 8 years.  Fombellida had many tales to tell, but one story in particular was the most intriguing one: the story about the upper levels of the BH building, where ghosts were seen by students.

“In World War 2, a sailor took a girl with him to one of the rooms and killed her in there.  People nowadays still see a girl walking around at times and once they turn around, she’s just gone, vanished,” Fombellida said.

Fort Street Café, one of the most popular food stores in HPU, was also part of the Blaisdell Hotel.  However, before Fort Street Café, it was named Hapo’s Pizza Place.  Vince Chaleunxay, one of the workers at Fort Street Café has been working there for 6 years.  “Ever since Fort Street Café has been established, there are less homeless people and more plants on this street. I’ve got to say, HPU has gotten a lot nicer over time,” Chaleunxay stated.

City and County made it their responsibility to clean up Fort Street Mall. In order to do so, they put tables with umbrellas and chairs out in front of the BH building.  The Fort Street merchants now work together to make Fort Street a better place by trying to clean up whatever is near their shop.

However, Fort Street still has some safety issues. Brandon, a security guard who has been working on Fort Street since March of 2010, confessed that he does not enjoy his job. “Fort Street got a lot safer over the years, but there are still plenty of incidents. A few months ago, a friend of mine and I got beat up by a psycho homeless person because we woke him up.” Note that one homeless person beat up two security guards, but still Brandon and Chaleunxay are convinced that Fort Street has become safer and nicer over the years. One can only guess what a safe and secure place Fort Street used to have been.

Now, the Business Improvement System (BIS) is thinking of ways to improve the mall. For 8 years, the BIS has provided supplement for the city by having security guards in the mall explaining the rules to people who disturb others, having workers pick up rubbish twice a day and adding trees or chairs to improve the environment on Fort Street.

Gene Yokoi, head of the BIS, wants Fort Street Mall to have the same appearance as it used to have 50 years ago; as the first shopping center of Honolulu.  “I want to make Fort Street Mall a stable place and bring in more businesses to keep the homeless people away. Farmer’s market and HPU’s events are examples of bringing in more people,” Yokoi said.

Yokoi continued to explain that the reason why there are many people roaming around Fort Street, is because there is an Institute Human Service (HIS), also known as Safehaven, located on Fort Street which provides services to people with mental disorders. This institution and BIS are working together to discourage loitering and panhandling.

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