McMenamins John Barleycorns Pub and Brewery in Tigard, Oregon has a distinct and captivating look. It’s like a miniature medieval castle, yet the interior has a tropical flair. What is the inspiration for this curious combination?
Mike McMenamin based the design for the John Barleycorns Pub on an unusual pumping station that caught his eye while on vacation in Hawaii during the early 1990s. John Barleycorns Pub opened on March 14, 1996, after a brave construction crew battled rare blizzards, high winds, and flooding during the previous months. Perhaps a tropical storm from the Hawaiian Islands had whooshed over to check out the new look-alike structure.
The Kakaʻako Pumping Station in Honolulu was constructed around 1900. The booming population of Hawaii at the turn of the 20th century necessitated modern solutions to sanitation and investments in public infrastructure. Diseases such as cholera were spreading throughout the island of Oahu and the growing epidemic could not be ignored.
Civil engineer, Rudoph Hering, who designed large-scale sewage systems for New York City, was in charge of the practical mechanics; and architect Oliver G. Traphagen, designer of the luxurious Moana Hotel on Waikiki Beach, took care of the beautification. The stone façade of the Richardsonian Romanesque-style pumping station is made of lava rock sourced locally from the Oahu island. There are decorative arched windows reminiscent of European churches, a green tile roof, a hexagonal turret, and a 76-ft tall smokestack. Pretty outstanding for a functional pumping station.
The Kaka’ako Pumping Station ceased operations in 1955, and the building sat vacant for decades. Even after this hidden architectural gem was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, the building remained empty over the next 36 years. In 2014, the Hawaiian Architectural Foundation began renovations and restored the building to its original luster. And in 2016, the Hawaiian community transformed the vacant pumping station into the Nā Kūpuna Makamae Center—opening their doors and pumping the historic station full of new life.
This community center offers educational and social events for seniors, but welcomes all local residents to participate. Classes in Hawaiian language, hula dancing, and flower lei making are available and provide opportunities to learn about and celebrate Native culture. Other courses on business and tech, for instance, keep seniors up-to-date on their knowledge and skills.
The Nā Kūpuna Makamae Center is also frequently rented out for social gatherings and meetings. Imagine all the people celebrating and partying across the Pacific Ocean, in our (almost) identical sister-building—while we raise a glass at John Barleycorns, all at the same time! Cheers and Aloha!