Haunted houses come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not always going to be a creaky, 2.5 story wood house with a wide porch, broken windows, and a dreadful weeping willow tree obscuring the entrance at the end of the lane. Sometimes, it’s a plain old insurance building.
Don’t let its unremarkable exterior fool you. The Atlas Insurance building on Merchant Street in downtown Honolulu is one of the most haunted places on the entire island. Indeed, it’s one of the darkest places, feared by mediums across the entire Pacific.
The secret behind this modest, easily missed, two-story white office building’s horrendous haunting lurks in the history of the neighborhood.
Haunted Histories: The Old Merchant District
The Atlas Insurance building on 201 Merchant Street is smack dab in the center of old downtown Honolulu. Merchant Street was Honolulu’s first commercial core, and it remains a bustling center for commerce and trade today.
The history of Merchant Street goes back to 1854 when buildings higher than two stories were constructed by men without helmets, without the aid of cranes and pulley elevators. The builders shimmied along rickety scaffolding, nailing boards into place and laying brick.
Many accidental deaths cropped up around buildings like Melchers, a retail firm and the oldest commercial building in Honolulu, and the Kamehameha Post Office, the Kingdom of Hawaii’s first postal center. Men fell from buildings or were pushed. After all, wherever economic booms crop up, jealousy, bad deals, rivalries, and murders by greed follow.
Add on top of that the Chinatown fire of 1886, which destroyed many historic buildings in the Merchant District. Residents in the dwellings where the original Seamen’s Bethel building stood have reported sudden hot flashes and feelings of suffocation. It’s the victims of the Chinatown fire crying out for the living to remember their deaths were not vain.