First YMCA Honolulu Building

Build a Firm Foundation.

Our First Building Cost $14,000

In 1881, YMCA Honolulu volunteer board members foresaw the need for a permanent building and spearheaded the first capital campaign. Through their efforts, the Y purchased a property on the corner of Hotel and Alakea Streets for $4,000 and raised additional funds for construction. On April 21, 1883, the first YMCA Honolulu building was dedicated with King David Kalakaua and 300 dignitaries in attendance.

Red Brick Beauty

YMCA Honolulu’s first building was striking in contrast to the wooden structures and dirt roads of the time. Made of red brick, it stood two stories tall and 67 feet wide. It was the first time the YMCA had a full-time director.  In the 1900s, lunch service was started. At just 20¢ a meal or $1 a week, members no longer had to frequent the saloons for a cheap lunch.

Lifetime Members

From the beginning, visionary donors have enabled the YMCA to evolve. Our first lifetime members were people who donated $250 or more—roughly $6,250 in today’s dollars—to our first building fund.

1880s Leadership gathering in the first YMCA Honolulu building.
1883 Cozy parlor of first YMCA Honolulu building.
The plantation system was just beginning, and large numbers of Chinese immigrants were pouring in to work on the sugar plantations. The YMCA was concerned about the moral and well-being of these newcomers and established a Chinese YMCA on March 16, 1877. The YMCA later built the Chinese YMCA Building in 1885 at 1221 Akia Street between Beretania, Kukui, Queen Emma and Fort Streets. It offered housing for newcomers and a school for boys where they could earn high school certificates so they could apply to a university.

Volunteers & Philanthropy ➔