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Facelift for Thomas Square Continues

Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation

In Honolulu, after five years of scaffoldings and construction, you may be noticing changes on the mauka side of Thomas Square. It's the city's first park and it has unique historical significance.

Thomas Square is named after British Admiral Richard Thomas who restored Hawaiian sovereignty after an illegal overthrow by British forces in 1843.

In 2018, a statue of Kamehameha III was dedicated in the park with a stone wall bearing the state motto.

Near the end of last year, Arts in the Park was inaugurated with four artworks installed along Beretania Street. Two sculptures by local artists will be rotated annually.

This year's pieces are “Ho‘okumu—Moana (The Source—The Deep Ocean)” by Bernice Akamine and “16 Cube Truss (About Building Systems)” by Sean Connelly.

Akamine's piece offers a single water droplet to symbolize the entire cycle of water from mountain mist to the deep ocean. It is made of stainless steel wire and tiny crystals woven in one of the oldest styles of net-making.

Connelly's piece is made of wood, constructed by Ian Eichelberger with lashings by Hawaiian artist Kupihea. The construction refers to new possibilities for architecture in Hawai’i and honors the historical significance of the park. Thomas Square was designed by Hawai’i’s first female landscape architect, Catherine Jones Richards.

City Parks and Recreation information officer Nathan Serota says electrical work has delayed complete reopening.

"We have new light posts and LED lighting that's going up there so they had to do a complete new switch box as well as new wiring- that just kind of pushed things back," Serota said. "In the meantime, because of these artwork pieces now, we're looking to actually do some specific lighting for those art pieces so that at night people can see them just as well when they're either driving down the street or walking along Beretania Street."

"But the bigger project and the barriers coming down-- we're hoping to have that down soon. The time frame now is spring," he said.

Thomas Square's central fountain has been repaired and is expected to run during park hours once the park fully reopens.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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