Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pantheon Block

It was a time before the automobile; folks rode horseback or were carried in horse or mule drawn carriage, trolley or omnibus (the automobile didn’t make it to the Islands until 1890.)

“James Dodd has leased the premises known as the Bartlett House, at the corner of Hotel and Fort streets, he called it the Pantheon Hotel. The premises have been renovated, repaired, painted and papered throughout, making them look almost as good as new.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, October 30, 1878)

“Mr. Dodd has had experience in the hotel business, and from his urbanity of manner and good business habits we doubt not but the new place will be well kept. He intends to have, in connection with the hotel, a finely arranged livery stable with a full complement of carriages and saddle horse for the accommodation of the public.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, October 30, 1878)

The May 23, 1883 issue of the Daily Bulletin noted, “James Dodd's Pantheon Saloon is nearly finished building. It is very handsomely designed.”

He also had the Long Branch sea bathing baths in Waikīkī and ran an omnibus (bus) line from downtown to Waikiki.

“The Pantheon Saloon has a large commodius room attached to the bar where its patrons can sit at ease and pass their leisure tune reading the latest papers.”  (Hawaiian Star, February 13, 1895)

Then, the "Black Death" (Bubonic Plague) struck Honolulu.

Its presence caused pause in the opening months of 1900 and was on everybody’s mind, with good reason; the same disease had decimated a third of the world's population during the fourteenth century.  It started to spread in Honolulu.

"The other center of infection is block 19, north and east of block 20 at the Pantheon livery stables and saloon. From this place 3 cases in all have been traced, 2 Chinese and 1 white American."  (Public Health Reports, February 8, 1900)

As more people fell victim to the Black Death, on January 20, 1900, the Board of Health conducted “sanitary” fires to prevent further spread of the disease.

The Pantheon premises were condemned and burned.

With five fire engines strategically placed, the controlled incineration of the Pantheon stables and saloon took place in the morning of February 7, 1900. Other places connected with the four victims were also disposed of.  (Papacostas)

“The structure mainly consists of a series of heavy timbers for the walls upon which has been laid a corrugated iron roof.  … the premises in rear of the stables disclosed the same ramshackly series of lean-tos and sheds as were generally found all through the Chinatown district”.  (Hawaiian Gazette, February 6, 1900)

Another fire, started between Kaumakapili Church and Nuʻuanu Avenue, blazed out of control, due to the change in wind.  The fire burned uncontrollably for 17 days, ravaging most of Chinatown.  People trying to flee were beat back by citizens and guards into the quarantine district.

The extent of the fire and the estimates of the area ranged from 38-65 acres.  The fire caused the destruction of all premises bounded by Kukui Street, River Street, Queen Street (presently Ala Moana Boulevard) and Nuʻuanu Avenue.

Dodd died January 21, 1900 – but the Pantheon returned.

“Like the Phoenix the Pantheon arose from its ashes. Although it is not on the same spot it is so near it that one looking for the favorite drinking place cannot go far astray. Ever since the old Pantheon was started many years ago by the late James Dodd it has been noted for the good cheer obtainable there.”

“Now that its old proprietor is no more, the reputation of the place is kept up to its former old standard and there is nothing to be desired in the way of refreshment for the inner man that cannot be obtained there.” (Honolulu Republican, June 16, 1901)

“The Pantheon saloon reopened in the new building at Fort and Hotel streets last night. TA Simpson. FM Kiley and JF O'Connor are in charge there. The house is quite large and looks neat.”  (Hawaiian Star, September 25, 1900)

“The Pantheon is homelike and as an oasis in a desert to the tired and thirsty traveller. It is the place to drop in and take a drop. Never is a want left unsatisfied in the Pantheon. To make your want known is to have the want catered to and in a way that is satisfactory. Courteous treatments the rule and although there are other places there is but one Pantheon, the Pantheon on Hotel street.”

The name of the saloon is over the door. It is on Hotel street.  There the thirsty may be refreshed and the weary rest.  (Honolulu Republican, June 16, 1901)

On July 19, 1909 the Evening Bulletin announced, "Architect HL Kerr has just completed the plans for a two-story building on the Ewa-mauka corner of Hotel and Fort streets, and bids on its construction will shortly be called for. The building will be of concrete and steel construction and will be built so as to allow the erection of more stories if necessary.”

“The structure will be known as the Pantheon building and will be erected by the Pantheon Building Company, of which Mrs JM Dowsett is the principal stockholder.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, July 20, 1909)

In the 1950s, owners decided to modernize the facade. Concentrating on the shop-fronts the owners added shiny Arizona sandstone surrounds and new plate-glass windows.  Failing to transform the building sufficiently to attract shoppers heading to the new Ala Moana and Kahala shopping malls, the owners added paneled treatment for the upper story.   (Papacostas)

Contractor Lucas called it “an ornament to the city” and, in its retrospect for 1911, Thrum’s Hawaiian Annual described it as “the principal structure of the year.”   (Papacostas)  The Pantheon remains today at Hotel Street and the Fort Street Mall.

The image shows the early Pantheon on the right (HSA, 1880s.)  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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