Banking customers invited to celebrate 150 years

A rainbow greeted customers who entered the First Hawaiian Bank, Lihu‘e branch, Monday.

The rainbow was gleaned from the trademark FHB logo and splashed the Lihu‘e branch with color as it broadcast its celebratory message to entering patrons.

“Monday is the actual 150th anniversary celebration,” said Leland Kahawai, one of the FHB Lihu‘e managers who was in attendance at the blessing of the One Stop Center at the Kaua‘i Community College. “One hundred fifty years ago, we opened the doors on this date.”

In that vein, the Lihu‘e branch joined other branches in the state for a decorating contest with a $1,000 prize at stake.

Annie Horner was the Lihu‘e branch employee who spearheaded that effort.

“We wanted to bring customers back to the before times,” Horner said, pointing out a marquee depicting a teller cage from the former Bishop Bank. “We also have some vintage mu‘umu‘u and other items on loan from Aunty Beverly Muraoka.”

One of the customers who assisted in the decorating said Horner’s husband built the Bishop Bank facade by himself.

“But it wasn’t going to work because it was against the window,” the anonymous customer said. “The light was just too strong, so we went to Wal-Mart to buy a black sheet and now it works perfectly.”

First Hawaiian Bank was founded in 1858 and is the oldest and largest financial institution in Hawai‘i, states the FHB Web site. It currently has 58 branches throughout the state, three in Guam and two in Saipan.

Charles R. Bishop and William A. Aldrich recognized the need for more complete and dependable banking services during the heyday of the whaling industry in the 1840s.

At that time, whaling was the largest industry in the Pacific, Honolulu was the major port-of-call for supplies, and general merchandise stores performed some banking functions.

Bishop and Aldrich opened Bishop & Co., a banking partnership under the laws of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. Their original headquarters was located in a small corner office in a building near Honolulu’s waterfront which still stands today.

The first day’s deposit was $4,784.25.

From the introduction of sugar and pineapple in the late 1800s to the tourism boom and the jet age of the 1960s, the bank grew along with Hawai‘i, and in 1969, Bishop & Co. was changed to First Hawaiian Bank.

Currently, FHB has more than $12.6 billion in assets.

This growth is part of the Lihu‘e branch’s displays that range from traditional hula implements, the Bishop & Co. teller cage, a display showing the progress of typewriters through the different eras, and tied together with colorful balloons emblazoned with the FHB 150 Years of Yes logos.

Horner wasn’t sure of the displays available in the other branches, but invited customers to view the displays and enjoy the anniversary celebration for this week.

For more information on FHB banking services, visit any of the branches on the island, or its Web site at www.fhb.com

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