U.S. Immigration Station Administration Building, Honolulu (detention facility)
|US Gov Name|
|Administrative Agency||U.S. Army|
|Location||(21.2998869 lat, -157.86386300000004 lng)|
|General Description||Used to house interned Japanese Americans on O'ahu prior to their transfer to Sand Island.|
The U.S. Immigration Station Administrative Building in Honolulu, Hawai'i, served as a temporary detention center where authorities processed Hawai'i inmates before they sent them to other incarceration centers.
The U.S. Immigration Station, located at 595 Ala Moana Boulevard in Honolulu, Hawai'i, was built in 1934 and designed by architects Charles W. Dickey and Herbert Cayton. Dickey, who was born into a local family from Maui in 1871, was famous for designing a number of notable buildings including Wilcox Hospital on Kaua'i, Maui County Library, Queen's Hospital, and the Children's Chapel of St. Andrew's Cathedral. He also assisted in the designing of Honolulu City Hall. In describing his design of the U.S. Immigration Station, Dickey explained, "In general the buildings consist of low-lying masses of cream-colored stucco walls surmounted by graceful sloping roofs of variegated green and russet tiles." He referred to "a touch of Chinese architecture" at the entrance, adding, "this portico is the most important architectural feature of the group." With its columned and sheltered entry and ceramic tiled "Dickey-style" hipped roof, the building is an example of Hawaiian regional architecture especially as its U-shaped pavilion allows the building to take advantage of cooling trade winds. Visitors can also enjoy its distinctive detailing that includes Art Deco motifs and terracotta grills.
World War II Usage
During World War II, the Immigration Station was used as a temporary detention station as army and FBI officials arrested individuals on the FBI's custodial detention list following the Pearl Harbor attack. In Hawaii, End of the Rainbow, a fictional account of the experiences of Japanese immigrants in Hawai'i written by Nisei physician Kazuo Miyamoto based on his own internment experience, Miyamoto described how 180 men were packed into a dormitory at the Immigration Station that was adjoined by a bathroom with only two toilets and basins. As a result, Miyamoto reported that the "room was packed continuously" and that military police armed with bayoneted rifles would continuously monitor the prisoners. Jack Tasaka also recalled being "kept all day in a dark room with no light bulb, until called one by one to the final judgement." According to Tasaka, "we were forced to languish in this room from one week for a short stay to several weeks for a long examination" as prisoners waited to learn about their fate. Newspaper editor Yasutaro Soga also offers some of the most detailed descriptions of life at the Immigration Station:
At mealtimes, we lined up single file and were led to a backyard under the strict surveillance of military police. Anyone who stepped out of line came face to face with the point of a bayonet. At the entrance to the yard, each of us got a mess kit and food. Then we sat down on the ground and ate. Although there was a covered rest area nearby, we were forbidden to use it. Even if the ground was wet or it had begun to rain, we were forced to eat sitting on the ground. After ten or twenty minutes, we were taken back to the room. We were not allowed an occasional breath of fresh air or exercise at all. Of course we had to wash our own utensils. After we returned to our room, a few of us were called in turn and ordered to clean our area and the toilets.
Soga bristled at the fact that "Hawaiian, Portuguese, and sometimes Chinese and Nisei convicts" did menial work at the Immigration Station and as they ate their meals in the yard before them, the prisoners were forced to clean their tableware in the dirty water left behind after their washing. For many prisoners, the Immigration Station would be only the first step in their incarceration experience, as officials often then sent these individuals to Sand Island and other incarceration centers on the continent for the duration of the war. The Immigration Station remains under the jurisdiction of the federal government and still maintains much of its original appearance.
For More Information
Immigration Station materials in the NPGallery Digital Asset Management Service.
Magin, Janis L. "Immigration Station: Reflecting Hawaiian Territorial Style." Pacific Business News, March 15, 2009.
Miyamoto, Kazuo. Hawaii: End of the Rainbow. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, 1964.
Soga, Yasutaro [Keiho]. Life behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai'i Issei. Translated by Kihei Hirai. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2008.
- Harold Morse, "Architect's Work in Hawaii Notable," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Oct. 14, 1999, accessed on June 28, 2016 at http://archives.starbulletin.com/1999/10/14/news/story7.html
- Frank S. Haines, ed., Architecture in Hawaii: A Chronological Survey (Honolulu: Mutual Publishing, 2008), 42.
- Kazuo Miyamoto, Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (Tōkyō, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1964), 307.
- Jack Y. Tasaka, Confidential Stories at Honouliuli Internment Camp, trans. Ari Uchida. [Honolulu], 1980, manuscript, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i
- Yasutaro Soga, Life Behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai'i Nisei (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2008), 27-28.
- Jeffrey F. Burton and Mary M. Farrell, World War II Japanese American Internment Sites in Hawai'i (Tucson, Arizona: n.p., 2007), 5.