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Nestled on the corner of Punahou Street and Wilder Avenue is a little .7 acre gem of a garden called Punahou Square Park.  Once the property of Missionaries, the site was acquired by the City and County of Honolulu in the 1960’s.  The park has not experienced many changes in the 30 years of its existence.  Prior to its revitalization in the year 2002, the site was only recognizable by the butt shingled wood roof corner bus stop shelter, a straight beaten dusty dirt path used by pedestrians as a shortcut from Wilder Avenue to Punahou Street, and nearly dead grass.


The intent of the project was to preserve and enhance the existing passive park character while providing an ADA accessible pedestrian pathway incorporating low berms to add interest and relief from the flat plane of the existing park, provide Hawaiian Victorian Style benches, trash receptacles and bollards, provide a new irrigation system, protect existing exceptional trees, plant new grass, and incorporate interesting plant material and native plants for the neighborhood to enjoy. 


Punahou Square Park is home to several significant exceptional trees, including a grand Banyan Tree, which serves as a focal point for the park.  The Golden Shower Tree was planted in honor of Betty Crocker’s husband, Theodore Crocker and the Rainbow Shower Tree was planted in honor of Betty Crocker’s grandmother.  Other trees include an Opiuma Tree, a False Wiliwili Tree, Kolomona Trees, Be-Still Trees, a Surinam Cherry Tree, a Royal Poinciana Tree and a Plumeria Tree.  Three Queen’s White Shower Trees have been newly planted to enhance the pedestrian experience and to provide shade along the new pathway.  There are plans to have a dedication of the trees in honor of

Betty Crocker.


Pedestrians are now able to stroll through the park under the shade of the trees and watch the shadow play of the leaves on the pathway.  The pathway meanders through low grass covered berms.  The berms aid in separating pedestrians from the busy traffic while softening the noise of the vehicles.  The berms also provide alternative informal sitting areas.  The meandering pathway surface is made up of a special scoring pattern, heavy rock salt finish and colored concrete to enhance the richness of the park’s experience.


The location of the 3 concrete bench pads were carefully placed so as not to disrupt the existing Banyan Tree roots while providing 3 quiet spaces for contemplation and observation with perfect views of the park and bus arrival under the shade of the grand Banyan Tree branches.


The neighboring First Church of Christ Scientist’s umbrella shaped Monkeypod Tree and Mahogany Tree lends a nice backdrop to the park and seems to expand the park-like character along Punahou Street.  Flowering shrubs such as the broad, green leaves of ‘Ape and Green Ti were planted to frame the view of the historic First Church of Christ Scientist and at the same time to screen the parking lot and apartment buildings.


Shrubs and ground covers were carefully selected and used to define the park’s boundaries as well as to screen the adjacent Church driveway, parking lot, and the ewa apartments.  New plantings of Native shrubs such as the Native White Hibiscus, Red ‘Ilima, ‘Akia, ‘Ulei and fragrant and accent flowering shrubs such as Red and Pink Gingers, Gardenias and Yellow Hibiscus were planted for the many school children and neighbors that meander through the park.  This is a pleasant way to appreciate our beautiful Hawaiian flowers and foliage.


Punahou Square Park has had a very positive effect for the public.  Seeing the neighborhood embrace the park has been the biggest evidence of the park’s success.  From the sweeping of the pathway by a neighbor, to the strolling through the park by visitors from India, to the sitting under the shade of a Banyan Tree while waiting for the bus, to the lovers embracing, shows some of the many joyful happenings that occur at

Punahou Square Park.

Client:                                    City and County of Honolulu

                                              Mayor Jeremy Harris

                                              Mr. Michael Creagh, project manager

Landscape Architect:           Dana Anne Yee, Landscape Architect, LLC.

Civil Engineer:                      Kevin T. Mendes, Civil Engineer

Landscape Contractor:        Naturescape Landscaping,

                                              Taka Ishii and Robert Alupay

General Contractor:             Site Engineering, Noel, Naka, Ted and Glenn

Photography:                        Hal Lum Photography and Dana Anne Yee, ASLA

Punahou Square Park was recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects for an Award of Merit in 2003.  

Punahou Square Park received an Award of Excellence from the Betty Crocker Landscape Awards, sponsored by

Scenic Hawai‘i in 2004.

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