The Ferreira Building

At the corner of Lehua and Māmane Streets stands a prominent, two-story commercial wooden structure. Built in 1927, the building is a fine example of the “Plantation” single wall vernacular architecture commonly erected throughout the Islands between 1890 and 1940, and is the style of most of downtown Honokaa’s buildings. In 1935, during the Great Depression, the builder/owner of the building sold it to local Portuguese entrepreneur Antone Luce Ferreira to prevent foreclosure, giving the building its name. The property remains in the Ferreira family.

Earlier, this was the site of an A.S. Cleghorn Dry Goods Store. Scottish immigrant Cleghorn, based in Honolulu, owned a series of such stores throughout the islands. Like many prominent haoles (white immigrants), Cleghorn gained political influence when, in 1870, he married Princess Miriam K. Likelike, sister of future King Kalakaua. Cleghorn would serve in the King’s cabinet, as Governor of Oahu, but is most notable as the father of Princess Victoria Kaiulani, the last Crown Princess and heiress to the throne. In 1887, Joseph R. Mills of Honokaa purchased and lived in the store. J.R. Mills is notorious for his involvement in the lynching of Katsu Goto, a Japanese general store owner. Not only was Goto in competition with Mills for customers, but his mastery of English and position as a leader in the Japanese community made him an advocate for the Japanese sugar cane laborers, even appearing in court to represent them. His rivalry with Mills and unpopularity with plantation managers led to his tragic murder in December 1889, when Goto was found hanging from an electric pole in Honokaa. In a drawn out investigation by a diligent sheriff, Mills and a handfull of others were implicated, arrested, and Mills was eventually convicted of the crime. In a gross miscarriage of justice, however, Mills was sentenced to 9 years at hard labor for manslaughter, but his political connections obtained him a pardon in 1894, and he lived out his life on Oahu as a free man and business owner on Oahu. An excellent, in-depth coverage of this fascinating and tragic saga can be found here.

During World War II Marines from Camp Tarawa, prohibited from drinking in Waimea by Parker Ranch management, made the trek to Honokaa for booze and to blow off steam. The Marines frequented the Paradise Café (now Grandma’s Kitchen) in the Ferreira Building. Local legend maintains that these mainlanders could not pronounce “saimin,” the name of the popular noodle dish at the Café, instead called it “Long Soup,” and so the intersection of Lehua and Māmane Streets became known as “Long Soup Corner.”

When automobiles became more common and the plantation switched to trucks to transport cane during harvesting season from the fields to the mill, a traffic policeman was stationed atop a concrete cylinder in the center of the Lehua and Mamane Street intersection. The cylinder was removed as a traffic hazard in recent times and now sits on the corner just outside Grandma's Kitchen.

Currently, the Ferreira Building is home to Hamakua Realty, Simply Natural Restaurant, Vierra’s Bakery, Applied Therapeutic Counseling, the Hamakua Plantation Museum, and Grandma’s Kitchen.

Ferreira Building Nomination Form