Oahu Cemetery

Oʻahu Cemetery & Chapel boundary wall at Nuʻuanu Ave. & Judd St.

The Oʻahu Cemetery[1] is the resting place of many notable early residents of the Honolulu area. They range from missionaries and politicians to sports pioneers and philosophers. Over time it was expanded to become an area known as the Nuʻuanu Cemetery.[2]


It was the first public cemetery in Honolulu, founded in November 1844. Due to the growth in the whaling industry, discussion had started in 1836 on the need for a new burial ground that was not associated with a specific church. The 4.38 acres (1.77 ha) site was purchased for $300 and $350 granted for a house. The money was raised by selling subscriptions on 59 plots of $12 each. Later another 3 acres (12,000 m2) were purchased from Gerrit P. Judd to expand in 1860. Rev. Samuel C. Damon served on the cemetery association in the early days. The first recorded burial was American sailor H. Wolley, for $2.50.[3]

Crematorium built in 1906

In 1906, the first public crematory in the Hawaiian Islands, designed by architect Oliver G. Traphagen opened at the cemetery.[4][5]

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, all paper currency on the islands was withdrawn and replaced with Hawaii overprint notes, in case the Japanese invaded. Faced with the task of quickly destroying $200 million of cash, the crematory at the cemetery was used to burn it, instead of risking transport to the mainland.[6][7] However, progress was too slow, so the larger furnace at the Aiea sugar mill was also used.[8][9][10][a]

An area called the Seamen's Lot contains many unmarked graves for sailors, provided by the Honolulu Sailor's Home. Another plot is dedicated to firefighters, marked by a monument 15 feet (4.6 m) high. Two dozen were killed by strafing in the December 7, 1941 attack.[11]

Oʻahu Cemetery is located at 2162 Nuʻuanu Avenue, at the base of the Nuʻuanu Valley at coordinates 21°19′27″N 157°51′1″W / 21.32417°N 157.85028°W / 21.32417; -157.85028Coordinates: 21°19′27″N 157°51′1″W / 21.32417°N 157.85028°W / 21.32417; -157.85028.[12] In 1863 King Kamehameha IV built the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii across the street for the Hawaiian royal family. In Punchbowl Crater (to the south) the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was founded in 1948. Just north of the Royal Mausoleum, the "Nuʻuanu Memorial Park" was added in 1949, with its own funeral home.[13][14] In 1958 a Japanese cemetery was added on adjacent land called "Honolulu Memorial Park".[15] In 1964, two Columbaria (buildings to store cremated remains) called the Kyoto Gardens were constructed.

One of the buildings is a replica of a Buddhist temple. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[16]

Strictly speaking, the original 1844 cemetery is called "Oʻahu Cemetery", although the extended area is often called "Nuʻuanu Cemetery"[17][18] after the area.[19]

In 1989 a funeral for Ferdinand Marcos was planned at the mortuary,[20] but instead the body was kept refrigerated at the Byodo-In Temple until it was flown back to the Philippines in 1993.[21]

Notable burialsEdit


  • a. ^ Some sources[8][9] do not use the word "Oʻahu" for the crematory, but use "Nuʻuanu", and this was the only crematory listed in telephone books at the time that was on Nuʻuanu Avenue.[24]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Oʻahu Cemetery
  2. ^ Jeff Phister; Thomas Hone; Paul Goodyear (2008). Battleship Oklahoma, BB-37. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-8061-3917-3.
  3. ^ Richard A. Greer (1967). "Here Lies History: Oahu Cemetery, a Mirror of Old Honolulu". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaiian Historical Society. 1: 53–71. hdl:10524/384.
  4. ^ "Crematory Facilities & Cremation Services". Oahu Cemetery web site. Archived from the original on October 16, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  5. ^ Robert C. Schmitt; Ronn Ronck (1995). Firsts and almost firsts in Hawai'i. University of Hawaii Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-8248-1282-9.
  6. ^ Michael Slackman (1990). Target: Pearl Harbor. University of Hawaii Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-8248-1378-9. crematorium.
  7. ^ Dennis V.N. McCarthy; Philip Wayne Smith (1985). Protecting the president: the inside story of a secret service agent. Morrow. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-688-05422-9.
  8. ^ a b Krauss, Bob (2005-07-27). "Wartime currency not so rare". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
  9. ^ a b Gwenfread Elaine Allen (1950). Hawaii's war years, 1941-1945: Prepared under the direction of the Hawaii Hawaii War Records Committee. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 92.
  10. ^ The Numismatist. 114. American Numismatic Association. 2001. p. 1467.
  11. ^ Marilyn Yalom (2008). The American resting place: four hundred years of history through our cemeteries and burial grounds. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 245–49. ISBN 978-0-618-62427-0.
  12. ^ "Oʻahu Cemetery". Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  13. ^ "Company History". archive of former web site. Nuʻuanu Memorial Park Ltd. 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-11-13. Retrieved 2009-11-22.
  14. ^ Dave Segal (May 6, 2004). "Operator walks away from Nuuanu Memorial Park: The landowners are suing cemetery manager RightStar following a two-year rent dispute". Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
  15. ^ "Honolulu Memorial Park".
  16. ^ Lorraine Minatoishi Palumbo (July 1, 2003). "Kyoto Gardens of Honolulu Memorial Park nomination form". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
  17. ^ Monica Nucciarone; John Thorn (2009). Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-3353-9.
  18. ^ Dan Cisco (1999). Hawaiʻi sports: history, facts, and statistics. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2121-0.
  19. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Nuʻuanu
  20. ^ "Ferdinand Marcos, Ousted Leader Of Philippines, Dies at 72 in Exile". New York Times. September 29, 1989. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
  21. ^ Elizabeth Nash (August 30, 1993). "Marcos's body to get a 21-gun send-off". The Independent. London, UK. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  22. ^ "Local and General News: The Last Ceremony". The Independent. Honolulu, HI. July 3, 1901. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  23. ^ [1] CWGC Cemetery Report; details obtained from casualty record.
  24. ^ books.google.com. R. L. Polk. 1941. p. 247.

Further readingEdit

  • Purnell, Nanette Napoleon (1998). Oʻahu Cemetery: Burial Ground & Historic Site. Honolulu: Oʻahu Cemetery Association. ISBN 9781892755001. OCLC 40579195.

External linksEdit