Friday, January 26, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 26, 2001

The original Stangenwald

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Stangenwald Building is named for Hugo Stengenwald, one of Hawaii’s pioneer photographers.

Born in Germany in 1829, Stengenwald was a medical student in Vienna in 1848, when he was caught up in revolutionary activity that shook the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Apparently forced to flee Austria, Stangenwald spent time in the California gold fields in 1850 and arrived in Hawaii in 1854. He set up a photography studio in at the corner of Merchant and Fort streets, just a few feet from the site of the building that now bears his name.

In 1857, he sold his business and left Hawaii, presumably to complete his medical studies. In any case, when he returned in 1861, he started practicing medicine, along with photography, again on Merchant Street.

He died in 1899, just as the first plans for Hawaii’s first high-rise — the one to bear his name — were being drawn up.

No one is really sure why the building is named for him. He may have been the landowner of the site, he may have commissioned the building, or friends may just have decided to honor his memory by naming the building after him.

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