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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, January 2, 2005

City aided with monumental task

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

Steve Souza was walking down Fort Street Mall last year when he glanced over at the Portuguese monument just outside Our Lady of Peace Cathedral. He didn't like what he saw.

This monument at Fort Street Mall was built in 1985 as a tribute to Hawai'i's early Portuguese immigrants.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

Looking at the monument, built in 1985 to honor the Portuguese in Hawai'i, he noticed its deteriorating condition. As president of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, he knew he had to do something.

"It has become sort of an eyesore because the city hasn't been able to clean it for the last five years," Souza said. "It should be cleaned at least once a year. We have to preserve the marble and the bronze."

The monument is known as the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, or Symbol of the Discoveries. It is a replica of a monument in Portugal dedicated to Diogo Cao, an early Portuguese navigator, according to Souza.

The $150,000 monument was originally planned by the Portuguese Centennial Commission in 1978 as a tribute to the early Portuguese immigrants and in appreciation for the many opportunities Hawai'i had to offer them.

The city of Oporto, the second-largest city in Portugal and the center for port wine distribution, assisted in design and construction.

The monument is a cross-and-column structure decorated with bronze plaques. The motif is a compass dial, with the fleur-de-lis pointing to the north and the Cross of the Order of Christ pointing to the east, toward Lisbon.

Eighteen tons of pink, black and beige rocks were donated by Portugal to construct the 30-by-35-foot mosaic at the base of the monument. The small, irregular pink, black and beige tiles were set by hand by two Portuguese stone masons, Julio Costa and Artura Silva, using only sand and water as mortar.

Fort Street Mall is owned by the city and operated under rules similar to a public park's. The mall is closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

Souza said it is important for people to honor those who came before us and that is why the memorial has to be maintained.

Sousa said it took several months to negotiate an agreement with the city to have the chamber take over the cleaning of the memorial and he found student volunteers at Saint Louis School willing to provide the muscle.

The first cleaning will be done Jan. 15 and again every six months as needed, he said.

"The city gave me a demonstration on how to clean all the different parts and not mar the thing," Souza said. "Marble naturally ages like ivory and the bronze can be preserved indefinitely with cleaning and waxing. I'll show the students how it's done and make sure they do it right. It is not that hard to learn, it has just got to be done."

Chris Nakashima-Heise, president of the nonprofit Fort Street Mall Business Improvement District, said she welcomes the help in making improvements at the mall.

The mall's Business Improvement District began operations in November 2002 and provides security officers and caretakers. Since that arrangement started, the mall has been safer and cleaner, there are more public activities and business is better, she said.

"We think it is nice that somebody is doing this," said Nakashima-Heise.

"It's great to see the community taking pride in (the memorial) on their own."

Reach James Gonser at 535-2431 or jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com.