Honolulu Police Station (detention facility)

US Gov Name
Facility Type
Administrative Agency U.S. Army
Location Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii (21.309661 lat, -157.8633714 lng)
Date Opened
Date Closed
Population Description
General Description Short term detention facility used to house briefly house interned Issei.
Peak Population

Short term detention center in which an unknown number of local Japanese were held for a short time during World War II.

The old Honolulu Police Station on the corner of Merchant and Bethel streets in Downtown Honolulu was built in 1931 at a cost of $300,000. Described as "one of the city's most attractive buildings, inside and out . . . [and] destined to rank among the finest structures of its kind in America," the Honolulu Police Station was designed by local architect Louis M. Davis and built by F.M. Dias. [1] It replaced the previous police station erected in 1886 that was deemed too small for the police department's growing needs and it had tile work and arches on the second floor and marble topped counters along with a "stuccoed exterior of terracotta shade." [2] General police work was carried out on the first floor where clerks and other employees were located with the traffic department, department of the booking and receiving of prisoners, the offices of the sheriff and deputy police inspectors, and detective department. The second floor was devoted to the activities of the jail department and contained the cell blocks for male and female prisoners, the detention of juveniles, and padded cells. The third floor housed the activities of the Honolulu district court or the police court.

With the outbreak of World War II, authorities began arresting individuals, and some individuals were taken to the Honolulu Police Station before being transferred to the U.S. Immigration Station Administration Building in Honolulu that was used as a temporary detention center. It was also the location of the Alien Property Custodian office that confiscated property owned by foreign citizens. An unknown number of Japanese prisoners were held in the Police Station, while during the war the army military police occupied the basement of the police headquarters. [3] Six months after vacating the building, the army returned the space to the police department in 1946, and the police department continued to use the building until it moved to South Beretania street where it remains today. [4] The old Honolulu Police Station building currently comprises part of the Merchant Street Historic District in Honolulu, Hawai'i as part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. [5]

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura , University of Hawai'i

For More Information

Hibbard, Don. Buildings of Hawaii . Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011.


  1. "City's $300,000 Police Station Ready in Fall," Honolulu Star-Bulletin , Aug. 1, 1931, 1.
  2. "City's $300,000 Police Station," "New Police Station Occupies the Site of Building Erected in 1886," Honolulu Star Bulletin , Sep. 30, 1931, 11.
  3. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Honouliuli Gulch and Associated Sites: Draft Special Resource Study and Environmental Assessment, May 2014 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2014), 16.
  4. "Army Returns Police Station Space To City," Honolulu Star-Bulletin , June 15, 1946, 2; "HPD History," Honolulu Police Department website, accessed on June 3, 2016 at http://honolulupd.org/news/index.php?page=main&story=106
  5. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the Merchant Street Historical District, 1973, accessed on May 27, 2016.

Last updated May 9, 2024, 3:45 a.m..