In 1879, The Cornerstone is laid for `Iolani Palace…

GeckoLike a lei floating on the surface of the sea, a young chain of islands, the pearls of the Pacific, came to grace the middle of the ocean. Rising up from the depths to become the world’s tallest mountains, the Hawaiian Islands with a warm tropical climate and soft flowing trade winds became a unique natural environment for plants, animals and finally human culture.


This is our story, this is the story of Hawai’i….

On December 31, 1879, Queen Kapi’olani’s 45th birthday, King Kalakaua laid the cornerstone of a new palace. The new building retained the name of the old palace, called ‘Iolani after one of Kamehameha IV’s names meaning “hawk of heaven.” Built in an American Florentine style, the new palace was four stories with an attic and basement, two central and four corner towers, and verandahs running on all sides. The interior was of koa, kou, kamani, ‘ohia, American walnut, and Oregon white cedar woods. It was equipped with electric lights and running water. While the palace was used for state occasions and parties (one was a fancy dress children’s ball thrown by Lili’uokalani), neither Kalakaua nor Lili’uokalani used the palace as their primary residence. Kalakaua and Kapi’olani lived mainly at their Bungalow on the palace grounds, while Lili’uokalani lived at Washington Place across the street. Lili’uokalani was later imprisoned, however, in one of the palace’s upper rooms. After the overthrow of the monarchy, she was tried for treason in her own throne room, then imprisoned for eight months before being placed under house arrest at Washington Place and eventually pardoned.

After Annexation in 1898, ‘Iolani Palace served as the capitol of the Territory (and later the State) of Hawai’i. The former throne room was used as the House of Representatives chamber, as the site of Lili’uokalani’s funeral, as a room for special meetings and ceremonies, and as a Red Cross dressing station during World War II. The state dining room later became the senate chamber. In 1969, a new state capitol was built and historical restoration of ‘Iolani Palace began.

Discover all of the history and lore of the Big Island at Botanical World…

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