A few weeks ago, I spent a Saturday morning in a meeting at the Queen’s Court office building overlooking Honolulu Harbor. After all of our committee business was conducted, Richard Emery, president of Hawaii First Inc., took me on a quick tour of his offices.
The first thing that caught my eye was the strikingly beautiful flooring. It is done with ipe wood (pronounced ‘ee-pay’), one of the hardest, densest woods and comes out of Brazil. The next thing that jumped out at me was what seemed to be accurate paintings of scenes of tall sailing ships in Honolulu Harbor. As it happens, they’re meticulous reproductions on canvas of paintings by well-known artist/historian Raymond Massey. These ardently researched and historically precise images set the stage for what I saw next: The view from Emery’s floor-to-ceiling window behind his desk.
Massey’s painting of “Mad Jack Percival’s U.S.S. Dolphin”, a 12 gun schooner, leaving Honolulu harbor. [©Massey, All Rights Reserved]
With a perspective like that, its easy to see why Emery is so passionate about sharing the historic significance of Honolulu Harbor. “Few people realize that 100 ships a month visited Oahu before Capt. (James) Cook landed, then it increased to 200 to 300 in the 1800s,” Emery says. “My mission with this building is to tie these old sailing ships into the bigger history of Hawaii.”