YWCA O‘ahu Facilities
This video compilation takes a look back at the last 100+ years of our three facilities: Fernhurst, Kokokahi and Laniākea. We are proud of our longstanding history and presence in our local communities on O‘ahu dating back to 1900. Even though times have changed, we still remain loyal to our original purpose and mission. With the help of our members, volunteers and supporters, we hope to continue our legacy of providing programs and services in these facilities for years to come. Please enjoy these amazing images of the changing landscapes throughout time.
1900's - 1950
YWCA O‘ahu was founded on the steps of Mrs. B. F. Dillingham's small cottage on the corner of Arcadia and Punahou. It was a place for Honolulu’s working women to build friendships, develop shared values, and learn skills that promote community engagement. Earliest classes included English, Bible study and lacemaking.
Mrs. E. W. Jordan was the first president with 128 charter members. Its headquarters was a small room in the Elite Building on Hotel Street. As membership increased, YWCA moved to two rooms in the Boston Building on Fort Street.
The Red Cross moved into YWCA and a secretary is hired to aid Japanese picture brides. YWCA O‘ahu raised $45,000 to establish a Patriotic League, which offered wholesome entertainment for soldiers, aid to travelers, and instruction in food conservation.
The Atherton Family donated the Fernhurst Building, located on the corner of King and Alapai streets to YWCA O‘ahu as a tribute to their daughter Kate and her deep interest in the welfare of girls. Julia Morgan designed the Fernhurst facility, which was named after all of the ferns that decorated the residence. YWCA Hilo and YWCA Kauai were established. Hostess houses were manned and equipped by the YWCA at Schofield and Fort Shafter for women and families to meet their off-duty military husbands and fathers. The International Institute was formed to aid immigrant women and families in their transition from the plantations into the city. They were taught to read signs, make clothes, and given instructions in how to obtain services from lawyers, banks, doctors, and hospitals.
Julia Morgan was hired to design the current Richards Street building. She was the first woman accepted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and is still considered one of the most prestigious female architects from America today.
The Hawaiian Girls Club donated $1,000 to the new building fund for the YWCA and was offered the choice to name any room in the new headquarters. They chose the large downstairs hall and named it Elizabeth Fuller after their first president. Elizabeth died on a trip around the world with the Hawaiian Girls Club, which regularly played against the YWCA volleyball and basketball team. Elizabeth Fuller is pictured second from the right in this photo from 1919. YWCA established the “Little House on Wheels,” a mobile classroom for physical and spiritual health outreach across O‘ahu.
A stained glass window was gifted for the YWCA chapel and given by F.J. Lowrey in memory of his wife Cherilla Lowrey. It was designed by Nicols D’Asengo, the same artist that made the beautiful windows at the Church at Valley Forge.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, YWCA fed breakfasts to the new Hawaiian Guard. Sixty men were served on December 8 and grew to 2,500 men on peak days. The basement of the Laniākea YWCA also served as a shelter, while the third floor had a surgical dressing unit from the Red Cross.
1950's - 2000
Fernhurst was sold to the Honolulu Rapid Transit Company. One year later, it reopened where it stands today in Makiki, a location selected by Ruth Richards Midkiff. The new building was designed by William Merrill, while Mrs. Midkiff supervised the construction and furnishings.
Camp Halekipa merged with Dr. Theodore Richards’ Kokokahi Community Trust to form the Kokokahi YWCA center. Dr. Richards envisioned an inter-racial community at Kokokahi (meaning “of one blood”), where the people of Hawai‘i could live and play together.
During the ‘70s, the organization grew its physical and general education programs and rehabilitative and supportive services to include special needs groups. YWCA O‘ahu got involved in legislative issues on equal rights, the treatment of juveniles, environmental protection and programs for immigrants. Photo is of the 1970 YWCA Senior High Summer Conference.
2000's - Present
The same core concepts of YWCA's mission still guide YWCA O‘ahu to this day. YWCA O‘ahu is on a mission to create opportunities of growth, leadership and power for more than 4,000 women and girls across the island.