The Harriet Bouslog Building
The Harriet Bouslog Building was originally the home of Hawaii’s first bank, Bishop Bank & Company. Commissioned and completed by Charles Reed Bishop in 1877, the two-story building became one of the essential components of the intersection of Merchant and Kaahumanu Streets and commercial life in downtown Honolulu. Known as “The Corner,” and famous for its gossip, the building was joined by three others located at the corner: The Kamehameha V Post Office; Honolulu Hale, with the predecessor of the Honolulu Advertiser located upstairs; and the Melcher Building, which served as Honolulu’s general store.
Bishop had married Princess Bernice Pauahi, one of the largest landowners in the Kingdom in 1850, but she was land rich and cash poor. With the early success of the bank, then located in the basement of the “Makee & Anthon’s Building” on Kaahumanu Street, less than a hundred yards away from its Merchant Street location, by the 1870’s, the bank had outgrown the basement and needed a home it could call its own. Designed and built by T.J. Baker, who designed and built Iolani Palace, Bishop Bank moved into its new headquarters at the corner of Merchant and Kaahumanu in 1878. Samuel Damon assumed ownership of the bank in 1895 and continued to grow the business. In 1925 Bishop Bank vacated its Merchant Street home and moved into a larger, new building on Bishop Street, eventually changing its name to First Hawaiian Bank.
The Bishop Bank moved to a new location in 1925, after which the Merchant Street building hosted a series of tenants ranging from a Japanese steamship line to the Hawaii Meat Co. In 1950, 63 Merchant was occupied by what would become its most well-known tenant: the law firm of Bouslog and Symonds. Its offices would go on to be the prepping grounds for some of Hawaii’s most significant court cases.
In 2010 the building was renovated and re-named the Harriet Bouslog Building, where it serves as the home of the Harriet Bouslog Labor Scholarship Fund and the Bouslog/Sawyer Charitable Trust.