A snapshot of Hawaiian history – Queen Emma, and the land beneath the International Market Place…
Hawaii’s Queen Emma Kaleleonalani, wife of King Kamehameha IV, was the original owner of the land where The International Market Place sat. Early in her life, she witnessed firsthand, the devastation caused by newly imported foreign diseases, as thousands of Native Hawaiians, and many of them children, died.
This inspired Emma to establish a new hospital to improve the health of the Hawaiian people. There was no money to build a hospital, so the King and the Queen went door-to-door, walking the streets of Honolulu to personally raise the money. To honor the Queen’s untiring efforts, the King and his cabinet named the new hospital that opened in 1859, The Queen’s Hospital.
Today, the hospital is known as The Queen’s Medical Center, and is the largest private nonprofit hospital in Hawaii, and is supported through income generated by the lands bequeathed by Queen Emma upon her death in 1885.
Queen Emma – the humanitarian…
Today, the land beneath The International Market Place is owned and managed by the Queen Emma Land Company, and is one of several of their income-generating properties enabling The Queen’s Medical Center to provide quality health care to Hawaii’s citizens. Queen Emma was also aware of the importance of education for her people, and funded St. Andrew’s Priory School for Girls in 1867, where nursing was promoted as a major career goal for young women.
Emma spoke English with a pure British accent, and was also fluent in Hawaiian. She was an accomplished songstress, a good dancer, played piano, and an excellent horse rider. Above all, she was devoted to promoting the welfare of the Hawaiian people.
As Paul Harvey, the famous American radio broadcaster would say, “Now you know the rest of the story.” Well, you know part of the story, but I thought you might enjoy learning something about a very special Queen, and her land beneath The International Market Place in Waikiki Beach.
Don the Beachcomber – the founder of The International Market Place…
Who was Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt? Who? Ernest Gantt was a sociable and charming young man who left his home in New Orleans in1926 to travel around the world on his own. During his travels he earned money by parking cars, working in restaurants in Chinatown, did a bit of bootlegging (before prohibition), and occasionally found work as a technical advisor on films set in the South Pacific.
He scoured the islands of the Caribbean, the South Pacific and the world. He was otherwise known as Donn Beach, the inventor of the Tiki Bar, and a profusion of rum concoctions that included the Mai Tai, the Navy Grog, the Pearl Diver, the Fog Cutter, and the Tahitian Rum Punch.
Edward “Mick” Brownlee…
Queen Emma’s legacy lives on…
Donn Beach was a celebrity for a long time in Waikiki. Donn died in 1989 at the age of 81.The banyan tree will be there for many years to come, but the original International Market Place is gone. A tired and aging historical “Hawaiian sense of place” has been torn down, and will be revitalized by a new 275,000 square foot International Market Place developed by The Taubman Company, and feature an 80,000 square foot Saks Fifth Avenue store, seven sit-down restaurants with outdoor dining, and unique retail specialty stores.
Taubman promises that the revitalization program will continue to covey a “Hawaiian sense of place”, and will incorporate historical, cultural and educational elements throughout the project.
Fortunately the beautiful banyan tree will be preserved and the tree house where Donn Beach would savor his small piece of Polynesia.
The legacy of Queen Emma is promised to be honored here when the revitalized International Market Place reopens in the spring of 2016. It will continue to provide a sustainable source of income for The Queen’s Medical Center so they can continue to provide quality health care to Hawaii’s citizens.