Thomas Square has been a significant gathering place for the people of Honolulu since July 31, 1843, when Admiral Richard Thomas and King Kamehameha III presided over the restoration of a sovereign Hawaiian government that had been illegally seized by a representative of the British Royal Navy five months earlier.

On that date, the king first uttered the phrase that still rings true today: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono — the sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.

Thomas Square has undergone several changes since 1843, first with the planting of the original four banyan trees in 1887 and followed by the addition of the iconic central fountain in 1932. However, Thomas Square has not undergone any significant improvements since its last renovation in 1967.

A scene from Thomas Square park in Honolulu.
Thomas Square park has been an important place for people to gather for nearly 175 years. Wikimedia Commons

Noting that 50 years of wear and tear have taken their toll, Mayor Kirk Caldwell made Thomas Square one of his priorities during his first State of the City speech in 2013. Three years and over 30 community and stakeholder meetings later, the city is preparing to undertake a phased renovation project targeted for completion in time for the 175th anniversary celebration of La Hoihoi Ea (Restoration Day) in 2018.

An Environmental Assessment has been completed and will be submitted in August for inclusion in the State of Hawaii Office of Environmental Quality Control publication, Environmental Notices. The EA process allows community stakeholders an opportunity to review and provide comments on the city’s renovation plan for Thomas Square.

Upon completion of the EA review in the fall of 2016, Thomas Square will be closed to public use for up to six months while new grass and irrigation systems are installed and the past glory is returned to this historical treasure.

Noting that 50 years of wear and tear have taken their toll, Mayor Kirk Caldwell made Thomas Square one of his priorities during his first State of the City speech in 2013.

When Thomas Square re-opens, it will be under the management and control of the city’s Department of Enterprise Services, which also manages the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, Waikiki Shell, Municipal Golf Courses and Honolulu Zoo.

The department’s mission is to manage and market a diversity of community oriented facilities and services for the use and benefit of the public and supporting cultural, recreational and educational opportunities and events toward a self-supporting basis.

The Department of Enterprise Services will combine existing Thomas Square cultural events — such as La Hoihoi Ea and the Inter-Tribal Pow Wow, among others — with new activities to develop a vibrant monthly program of free-to-the public events and festivals specifically for Thomas Square that are intended to enhance, engage and educate the community with culture, art and entertainment. Meanwhile, all permitted activities and current uses of the park will continue.

Thomas Square has always been a park where the people of Honolulu gather and always will be. Our planned renovations are intended to make it an even more popular place for friends and families to spend their leisure time, and we look forward to a day when the square is filled with children and adults enjoying their favorite pastimes every day of the week.

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