Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Mess

Early Honolulu was not a city of Clubs; although residents of various nationalities had started several, their existence has not been of long duration. The British, Germans and Americans each had their respective club houses.

In 1852, the British first opened their "Mess" rooms (it was not called a “Club” back then;) it started in a one-story wooden building off of Maunakea street, which was reached by a lane leading to the rear of the premises known as Liberty Hall (also known as Bugle Alley.)

The original Mess consisted of fourteen members; they were Stephen Spencer, WA Cooper, SH Cooper, Robert Moffitt, Dr Richard H Smythe, James E Chapman, JK Dallison, William Webster, John Janion, Charles Gordon Hopkins, H Fosbrooke, James Almon and Thomas Harding.

William L Green was the head of the Mess; he was prominent in official, civic and social life, and was for a time acting British Commissioner and Consul General, and President of the Chamber of Commerce of Honolulu.

The Mess was what might have been termed "movable" property; about 2-years after its Maunakea Street location, it moved to an old building on Alakea Street, and moved again to a building on Adams Lane.

In 1861, the Mess moved from Adams Lane further up the road to a 2-story building (that had been originally built for a club house) facing on Union street.

Mess membership declined down to only 4 in 1865; through the persistent efforts of two of these four members, the Mess was kept together and in a few months later had regained its strength.

By July 1867, the Mess had more members and was renamed “The British Club.”  Member subscriptions were sought, so the club could purchase its own premises.

Fifteen members (some of Honolulu’s notables of the day) subscribed to the purchase fund: Stephen Spencer, Archibald S Cleghorn, H Prendergast, Robert Moffitt, J Bollman, Thomas Cummins, James I Dowsett, Wm L Green, John Ritson, HA Widemann, John Montgomery, Robert Stirling, John O Dominis, Dr FW Hutchinson and Dr Robert McKibbin.

A charter of incorporation under the name of “The British Club” was granted in 1879; charter members were Thomas Cummins, Henry May and Archibald S Cleghorn.

Club life in the earlier days was somewhat different to what it is now; the club house was used as a home where members spent their evenings in a social manner and receiving their friends.

This club has had the honor of entertaining several distinguished and prominent visitors during its existence; among them was the Duke of Edinburgh, who visited Hawaii in 1869.

Kings Kamehameha IV & V were frequent visitors to the club; Kalākaua and his brother Leleiōhoku, were reportedly members, as were members of the diplomatic corps.

At one time, a faction of Club members considered selling their property and leasing the “Paki” premises, formerly the home of Bernice Pauahi Bishop and Charles R Bishop (also known as the Arlington Hotel.)  The move was overruled.

Later, the Club purchased the former Cleghorn property on Emma Street (Princess Kaʻiulani, daughter of the Cleghorns, was born there in 1875.)  Another prior owner was James Campbell, who bought the home from the Cleghorns and lived there for a number of years.

The Club later merged with the University Club (1930.)  Organized in 1905, the University Club was an exclusive association that admitted members who had graduated from recognized Universities, including military academies.

The club was “an organization that would tend to cement the business interests of Hawaiʻi,” it soon evolved into a business center that provided meeting, reading, entertainment and dining room facilities to its members and to groups with business connections.  (ASCE)

In 1961, a new club house was built; it was designed by Vladimir Ossipoff (he received a Hawaiʻi Society AIA award for its design.)

To keep the Club going, while at the same time constructing the new structure, they built the new around the old (losing only one day of Club operations during the final construction/move.  The lawn and terrace mark where the old club house once stood.)

Starting as a Gentlemen’s club (for whites,) the racial policy was scrapped in 1968 (Philip Ching and Asa Akinaka joined the club;) in 1983 (under a threat of legislative action,) the Club voted to admit women (in 1984, Andrea L Simpson was the first woman member.)

Oh, in 1892, “British” in the club’s name was changed to “Pacific.” At that time, the older members of the club were outvoted by the newer and later members. (The members at the time of the renaming it “The Pacific Club” had representatives of several nationalities.)  The Pacific Club is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States west of the Mississippi River. (Lots of info here from Thrum.)

The image shows the Cleghorn, then Campbell home – prior to 1959, it served as The Pacific Club’s clubhouse.  In addition, I have included other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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