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Mabel Smyth Memorial Building

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1941, C. W. Dickey. 510 S. Beretania St.
  • (Photograph by Augie Salbosa)

A memorial to Mabel Leilani Smyth, the first director of the Public Health Department within the Territorial Board of Health, this two-story building's overhanging hipped roof originally sheltered a variety of medical organizations, including the Medical Association, Nurses' Association, Physicians' Exchange, and Nursing Service Bureau, as well as a medical library and a nurses' lounge. Its windowless, 346-seat auditorium was open for public meetings. This reinforced-concrete structure features simple massing and the use of the ape (elephant ear) leaf as a decorative motif on the grille over the entrance. A renovation in 2000 by Aotani and Associates substantially altered much of the original interior; however, the magnificent second-floor carved double doorways, depicting torch ginger, remain.

Mabel Smyth was born in Kona and attended Springfield Hospital Training School for nurses in Manchester, Massachusetts. The first Hawaiian to be trained professionally as a nurse, she graduated in 1915, returning to Hawaii to work at Palama Settlement. She remained there until 1927, when she was appointed director of the newly organized Public Health Department, a position she held until her death in 1936. She helped establish professional nurses' training in Hawaii and organized the first well-baby clinic in the Islands.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Mabel Smyth Memorial Building", [Honolulu, Hawaii], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Hawaii

Buildings of Hawaii, Don J. Hibbard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011, 118-119.

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