Thomas Square

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Thomas Square
USA Hawaii location map.svg
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LocationBounded by King, Beretania, and Victoria Streets and Ward Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii
Coordinates 21°18′9″N157°50′56″W / 21.30250°N 157.84889°W / 21.30250; -157.84889 Coordinates: 21°18′9″N157°50′56″W / 21.30250°N 157.84889°W / 21.30250; -157.84889
Area6.5 acres (2.6 ha)
NRHP reference # 72000423 [1]
Added to NRHPApril 25, 1972

Thomas Square is a park in Honolulu, Hawaii named for Admiral Richard Darton Thomas. The Privy Council voted to increase its boundaries on March 8, 1850, making Thomas Square the oldest city park in Hawaii. [2]

Honolulu State capital city in Hawaii, United States

Honolulu is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is an unincorporated part of and the county seat of the City and County of Honolulu along the southeast coast of the island of Oʻahu. The city is the main gateway to Hawaiʻi and a major portal into the United States. The city is also a major hub for international business, military defense, as well as famously being host to a diverse variety of east-west and Pacific culture, cuisine, and traditions.

Hawaii State of the United States of America

Hawaii is the 50th and most recent state to have joined the United States, having received statehood on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state located in Oceania, the only U.S. state located outside North America, and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

Richard Darton Thomas Royal Navy admiral

Admiral Richard Darton Thomas was an officer of the British Royal Navy who served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and went on to become Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station in the 1840s.



In February 1843 Lord George Paulet on HMS Carysfort seized and occupied the Kingdom of Hawaii during the Paulet Affair.

Lord George Paulet Royal Navy officer during the Crimean War.

Admiral Lord George Paulet CB was an officer of the Royal Navy.

HMS Carysfort was a sixth-rate sailing frigate of the Royal Navy, launched in 1836 and named for the Earl of Carysfort, who had been a former (civilian) Lord of the Admiralty. Her captain, Lord George Paulet, occupied the Hawaiian Islands for five months in 1843. She was decommissioned in 1847 and finally broken up in 1861.

Kingdom of Hawaii Established during the years 1795 to 1810, overthrown in 1893–1894

The Kingdom of Hawaiʻi originated in 1795 with the unification of the independent islands of Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi under one government. In 1810, the whole Hawaiian Islands became unified when Kauaʻi and Niʻihau joined the Kingdom of Hawai‘i voluntarily and without bloodshed or war. Two major dynastic families ruled the kingdom: the House of Kamehameha and the House of Kalākaua.

On July 26 Admiral Richard Darton Thomas sailed into Honolulu harbor on his flagship HMS Dublin. He became Local Representative of the British Commission by out-ranking Paulet. His intention was to end the occupation. On July 31, he held the Hawaiian flag in his hands as he officially transferred the islands back to King Kamehameha III who said the words Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono in a speech during a ceremony to mark his restoration. Roughly translated from the Hawaiian language it means "The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness" and has become the state motto of Hawaii, incorporated into the Seal of Hawaii. [3] The British flag set was pulled down and the Hawaiian flag was raised, followed by a series of 21 gun salutes from the Fort, the British ships Carysfort, Dublin, Hazzard, the American ship Constellation, and lastly by guns at the park.

HMS Dublin was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 13 February 1812 at Rotherhithe.

Kamehameha III Monarch of the Hawaiian Islands

Kamehameha III was the third king of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1825 to 1854. His full Hawaiian name was Keaweaweʻula Kīwalaʻō Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa and then lengthened to Keaweaweʻula Kīwalaʻō Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kalani Waiakua Kalanikau Iokikilo Kīwalaʻō i ke kapu Kamehameha when he ascended the throne.

Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono motto of Hawaii, roughly meaning The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness

Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono is a well-known Hawaiian phrase which was adopted in 1959 as the motto of the state of Hawaii. It is most commonly translated as The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.

Kamehameha III later named the place where the ceremony was held in Downtown Honolulu "Thomas Square" in Admiral Thomas's honor and dedicated it as a public park.

Downtown Honolulu human settlement in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, United States of America

Downtown Honolulu is the current historic, economic, governmental, and central part of Honolulu—bounded by Nuʻuanu Stream to the west, Ward Avenue to the east, Vineyard Boulevard to the north, and Honolulu Harbor to the south—situated within the City of Honolulu. Both modern and historic buildings and complexes, many of the latter declared National Historic Landmarks on the National Register of Historic Places, are located in the area, 21°18′12″N157°51′26″W.


After the Privy Council demarcated Thomas Square's enlargement on March 8, 1850, the park was still merely a dusty field. A "cheap fence" was installed around 1873. [4] Oats were sown and harvested and algaroba (kiawe) trees were planted soon after 1873, but there was still little shade at the park. It was around this time that the merchant Archibald Scott Cleghorn (husband of Princess Miriam Likelike, father of Princess Kaʻiulani, and brother-in-law of Kalākaua and Liliuokalani) began stewarding Thomas Square and Emma Square (the only two parks in Honolulu at that point). [5] By 1883, Cleghorn had approved Robert Stirling's park design which laid out a series of circles and semi-circles for paths. Since Honolulu's treasury was in "dire condition" at the time, [5] Cleghorn brought banyan trees from ʻĀinahau, his Waikiki estate, to plant and create more shade. He also asked his friends for money to design and build a bandstand, seating, and add more planting. Within several years, the bandstand was designed and installed by Mr. F. Wilhelm while more shrubs and trees were planted. The improved park celebrated a successful grand opening on April 7, 1887 where the Royal Hawaiian Band performed to a huge crowd. [6]

Archibald Scott Cleghorn Hawaiian politician

Archibald Scott Cleghorn was a Scottish businessman who married into the royal family of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Likelike princess of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi

Miriam Likelike Kekāuluohi Keahelapalapa Kapili was a Princess of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, sister of the last two ruling monarchs, mother of Princess Kaʻiulani, last heir to the throne, and mistress of the ʻĀinahau estate. She shared the same name with Likelike, an earlier Hawaiian chiefess.

Kaʻiulani Crown princess and heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii until the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy

Victoria Kawēkiu Kaʻiulani Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Cleghorn was heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii and held the title of Crown Princess. Kaʻiulani became known throughout the world for her intelligence and determination. After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, she visited the United States to help restore the Kingdom; she made many speeches and public appearances denouncing the overthrow of her government and the injustice toward her people. While in Washington, D.C., she paid an informal visit to U.S. President Grover Cleveland and First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston, but her efforts could not prevent eventual annexation.

In 1925 it was made into a park managed by the City and County of Honolulu. [3]

In the early 1930s, the Parks Boards commissioned and adopted a renovation landscape plan by Catherine J. Richards and Robert O. Thompson. The renovation included a mock orange hedge along the curbs, flower beds bisecting a central walkway, and a terraces and coral wall parallel to Beretania Street. [7] It was during this renovation period in 1932 that The Outdoor Circle donated the central memorial fountain, dedicating it to the late Beatrice Castle Newcomb, who had been the President of the Outdoor Circle from 1922 to 1929. [8]

In 1938, The Daughters of Hawaii then unveiled a plaque to commemorate the historic flag-raising event. [9]

In 1942, the US Army built barracks at Thomas Square to quarter troops during World War II. [9] It received $50,000 in 1966 for a renovation that included an expanded comfort station, a new coral walkway from Beretania Street, and tree-pruning to thin out the canopies to allow for more light and air. [10]

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings in Oahu on April 25, 1972. It is state historic site 80-14-9990. [11]

Beginning in 2011, the Northern side of Thomas Square became an encampment site for (De)Occupy Honolulu, a Hawaiʻi affiliate of the Occupy movement. As such, regular protests and police conflicts have become a feature of the area.

July 31 is celebrated as Lā Ho'iho'i Ea or Restoration Day holiday. [12] The pathways in the park are shaped in the form of the British flag. A fountain is in the center of the square, surrounded by trees. Across the street is the Honolulu Museum of Art. [3]

On July 31, 2018, a 12-foot high bronze sculpture of "Kamehameha III" by artist Thomas Jay Warren and a flagpole flying the Hawaiian flag were dedicated at Thomas Square in a ceremony honoring the 175th anniversary of the restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty in 1843. The sculpture was created by Oregon artist Thomas Jay Warren for $250,000 allotted by the Mayor's Office of Culture and the Arts and is part of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s plans to revamp the park. [13]

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  1. National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  2. Greer, Richard (1992). ""Kulaokahuʻa and Thomas Square: From Boom to Bust to Now."". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 26: 142.
  3. 1 2 3 Dorothy Riconda (March 23, 1972). "Thomas Square nomination form". National Register of Historic Places. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
  4. Greer, Richard (1992). ""Kulaokahuʻa and Thomas Square: From Boom to Bust to Now"". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 26: 142.
  5. 1 2 Greer, Richard (1992). ""Kulaokahuʻa and Thomas Square: From Boom to Bust to Now"". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 26: 143.
  6. Greer, Richard (1992). ""Kulaokahuʻa and Thomas Square: From Boom to Bust to Now"". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 26: 144.
  7. Greer, Richard (1992). ""Kulaokahuʻa and Thomas Square: From Boom to Bust to Now"". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 26: 149.
  8. "Thomas Square". Star Bulletin & Advertiser. September 11, 1977.
  9. 1 2 Greer, Richard (1992). ""Kulaokahuʻa and Thomas Square: From Boom to Bust to Now"". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 26: 150.
  10. Greer, Richard (1992). ""Kulaokahuʻa and Thomas Square: From Boom to Bust to Now"". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 26: 152.
  11. "National and State Register of Historic Places on Oʻahu" (PDF). Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. June 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
  12. Blaine Fergerstrom (June 30, 2008). "Lā Ho'iho'i Ea / Restoration Day". Hawaii State Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
  13. Yang, Gordon Y. K. (July 28, 2018). "King Kamehameha III bronze statue to be unveiled at Thomas Square". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Honolulu: Oahu Publications, Inc. Retrieved August 5, 2015.