Captain John Dominis was an Italian-American ship captain and merchant from New York who had been trading in the Pacific since the 1820s.
In the 1840s, he purchased property on Beretania Street. There, he started to build a home for his family, Mary Lambert Dominis (his wife) and John Owen Dominis (his son.)
The original central portion, built in 1844-1847, was designed and executed in Greek Revival Style, with supplies ordered from Boston.
Captain Dominis reportedly embarked on several trading voyages while the house was being built, using the profits to pay off accumulated debts and resume operations (it’s not clear how many trips were required to build the new home.)
It is a two-story structure with partial basement. Various additions and alterations have occurred over the years. Cellar walls and foundations are of coral stone; Walls are coral stone (approximately 2½-feet thick) faced with cement to simulate stone work. The second floor is wood frame.
In 1847, on a voyage to the China Sea, Captain Dominis was lost at sea.
The grounds were said to have been planted “by Mrs. Captain Dominis as the first private garden in Honolulu, carefully watered until the yard was a handsome, cool retreat.” By 1848 the garden was sufficiently interesting for a visitor to ask for a list of the plants in the yard.
Mary Dominis then rented out the spare bedroom to American Commissioner Anthony Ten Eyck. Impressed with the white manor and grand columns out front, Ten Eyck said it reminded him of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s mansion and that it should be named “Washington Place.” He wrote a letter to RC Wyllie stating such.
King Kamehameha III, who concurred, Proclaimed as ‘Official Notice,’ “It has pleased His Majesty the King to approve of the name of Washington Place given this day by the Commissioner of the United States, to the House and Premises of Mrs. Dominis and to command that they retain that name in all time coming.” (February 22, 1848)
In 1862, John Owen Dominis married Lydia Kamakaʻeha (also known as Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī.) Lydia Dominis described Washington Place “as comfortable in its appointments as it is inviting in its aspect.”
Mary Dominis died on April 25, 1889, and the premises went to her son, John Owen Dominis, Governor of Oʻahu.
Lydia was eventually titled Princess and later Queen Liliʻuokalani, in 1891. John Owen died shortly after becoming Prince consort (making Liliʻuokalani the second widow of the mansion.) Title then passed to Queen Liliʻuokalani.
Liliʻuokalani continued to occupy Washington Place until her death on November 11, 1917.
Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, one of the heirs to the estate of Queen Liliʻuokalani, suggested that the Territory acquire Washington Place as the Executive Mansion. The Legislature appropriated funds for the purchase, and in May, 1921, the property was acquired by the Territory.
In 1922, major additions were made. These included the glassed-in lanai, the porte-cochere and the rear one-story wing with Dining Room and Kitchen. Family bedrooms were added to the second-story of this wing, later.
Washington Place became the official home of the Governor of Hawaiʻi when it was formally opened on April 21, 1922, by Governor Wallace Rider Farrington.
In 1954, the large Covered Terrace was constructed and in 1959, the second-story TV room was built above the glassed-in lanai. An elevator and the metal fire escape were added in 1963.
The Beretania Street and Miller Street sides and a portion of the rear line are enclosed with a wrought iron fence set on a concrete base.
The original tract, as owned by the Dominis family and Queen Liliʻuokalani, comprised about 1.46 acres. The Territory of Hawaiʻi acquired additional property on Miller Street, making a total of about 3.1 acres.
Across the street from the State Capitol on Beretania Street, Washington Place was the executive mansion for the territorial governors from 1918 to 1959, and, after Hawaiʻi became the 50th state, the state governor’s mansion, from 1959 to 2002.
Washington Place remains the official residence of the governor however, a new house, built on the property in 2002, is now the personal residence of the Governor of Hawai‘i. (governor-hawaii-gov)
The image shows Queen Liliʻuokalani outside Washington Place in 1893. In addition, I have added other images of Washington Place in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
Prominent features rising above the town of Waimea on the Big Island are the puʻu (cinder cones) in the surrounding pasture. The South Kohala community made special note of these physical features in the Community Development Plan noting, “the Puʻu define the special landscape ‘sense of place’ of Waimea.”
One of these, Hōkūʻula (red star,) played a prominent role in battles between warring leadership from the islands of Maui and Hawaiʻi. This story dates back to about the mid-1600s.
To put this timeframe in global perspective, around this time: the Ming Dynasty in China ended and the Manchus came into power and established the Qing dynasty; the Taj Mahal was completed in India: British restored the monarchy and Charles II was crowned king of England; and the Massachusetts Bay colony was forming after the recent landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.
In the islands, Lonoikamakahiki (Lono) was the Mōʻi (Chief) of Hawai‘i. He was a descendant of Pili (a high chief from Tahiti from the 13th century. Lono was grandson of ʻUmi (and great grandson of Līloa.))
“Lono-i-ka-makahiki was a son of Keawe-nui-a-Umi, and was chief of Ka-u and Puna. He was sole ruler over those two districts on Hawaii. He was married to a chiefess, named Ka-iki-lani-kohe-paniʻo, who was descended from Laea-nui-kau-manamana. To them were born sons, Keawe-Hanau-i-ka-walu and Ka-ʻihi-kapu-mahana.” (Kamakau)
Through marriage and victories over other chiefs, Lonoikamakahiki became the ruler of the Island of Hawaiʻi. “During Lono’s reign, when he tended to the affairs of his kingdom, the chiefs and commoners lived in peace.” (Kamakau)
Lono visited the Mōʻi of the various islands, including Kamalālāwalu, ruling chief of Maui. “Lono-i-ka-makahiki sought the good will of these chiefs when he came to meet and associate with them in a friendly manner. There were to be no wars between one chief and another.” (Kamakau)
Kamalālāwalu (Kama) met him and welcomed him royally. The chiefly host and guest spent much time in surfing, a sport that was enjoyed by all. Lono was lavishly entertained by Kamalālāwalu.
Not long after Lono’s departure and return to Hawai‘i, however, Kamalālāwalu, driven by ambition, decided to invade and conquer the nation of Island of Hawai‘i. He sent spies to survey the opposition; they reported there were few men in the Kohala region.
When Kamalālāwalu heard the report of his spies, he was eager to stir his warriors to make war on Hawaiʻi. Most of the prophets and seers supported the chief’s desire and gave dogs as their omen of victory [said that clouds taking the form of dogs foretold victory]. The dogs were a sign of fierceness, and so would the chief fiercely attack the enemy and gain the victory with great slaughter of the foe.
Part of the prophets and seers came to the chief with prophecies denying his victory, and urging him not to go to fight against Hawaiʻi. When Lanikāula, a high priest from Moloka‘i, warned Kamalālāwalu of the dangers of an assault, an irate Kamalālāwalu replied “when I return, I will burn you alive.” (Fornander)
Kamalālāwalu’s fleet landed in Puakō and met no opposition. Lono’s oldest brother, Kanaloakuaʻana, was in residence Waimea at the time, and, upon hearing of the invasion, marched toward Puakō with what forces he had at hand. A battle ensued at Kauna‘oa (near the present-day Mauna Kea Resort), and Kanaloakuaʻana’s forces were defeated, with Kanaloakuaʻana himself being taken prisoner and eventually killed.
After this initial success, Kamalālāwalu and his Maui warriors marched boldly inland and took up a position above Waimea on top of the puʻu called Hōkūʻula and awaited Lono’s forces.
During the night, Lono’s warriors from Kona arrived and occupied a position near Puʻupā (the large cinder cone makai of the Waimea-Kohala Airport.) His warriors from Kaʻū (led by its high chief and Lono’s half-brother, Pupuakea) and Puna were stationed from the pu‘u called Holoholoku (the large cinder cone out in the plains below Mauna Kea,) those from Hilo and Hāmākua were stationed near Mahiki, and those from Kohala were stationed on the slopes of Momoualoa.
That morning, from his position atop Hōkūʻula, Kamalālāwalu could see that the lowlands were literally covered with the countless warriors of Lono, and realized that he was outnumbered. For three days the armies skirmished, with the actions of the Maui warriors being dominated by Kamalālāwalu’s nephew and chief, Makakuikalani.
“Short and long spears were flung, and death took its toll on both sides. The Maui men who were used to slinging shiny, water-worn stones grabbed up the stones of Puʻoaʻoaka. A cloud of dust rose to the sky and twisted about like smoke, but the lava rocks were light, and few of the Hawaii men were killed by them.” (Kamakau)
“The warriors of Maui were put to flight, and the retreat to Kawaihae was long. [Yet] there were many who did reach Kawaihae, but because of a lack of canoes, only a few escaped with their lives. Most of the chiefs and warriors from Maui were destroyed.” (Kamakau)
While Kamakau notes Kamalālāwalu died on the grassy plain of Puakō, other tradition suggests that after Lonoikamakahiki defeated Kamalālāwalu at Hōkūʻula, he brought the vanquished king of Maui to Keʻekū Heiau in Kahaluʻu and offered him as a sacrifice.
The spirits of Kamalālāwalu’s grieving dogs, Kauakahiʻokaʻoka (a white dog) and Kapapako (a black dog,) are said to continue to guard this site. Outside the entrance to the heiau and towards the southwest are a number of petroglyphs on the pāhoehoe. One of them is said to represent Kamalālāwalu.
So ended the first of the major wars between the nations of Maui and Hawai‘i, and a turning point in the history of Hawai‘i.
(Puʻu Hōkūʻula is sometimes referred as “”Buster Brown.” Apparently, while training at Camp Tarawa in Waimea, Marines named it Buster Brown Hill after the former section manager for Parker Ranch, who lived just below the hill.)
The image shows Puʻu Hōkūʻula; in addition, I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
Prior to becoming a US territory, Hawaiʻi’s modern army consisted of a royal household guard and militia units.
By the 1860s, the Hawaiian military had been reduced to the Royal Guard, a unit assigned to guard the sovereign. They were also known as the Household Guard, Household Troops, Queen’s Guard, King’s Own and Queen’s Own – they guarded the king and queen and the treasury and participated in state occasions.
The organization was quartered in ʻIolani Barracks (Halekoa.) (Built in 1871 (before the Palace,) the Barracks was located on a site now occupied by the State Capitol behind ʻIolani Palace across Hotel Street, formerly Palace Walk. In 1965, the coral block building was dismantled piece-by-piece and reassembled on the Palace grounds.)
The Guard was an elite group of 60-men from which the King’s body guards were drawn, with a heritage which extended far back into Hawaiʻi’s history.
In 1873, King Lunalilo became ill and was convalescing and regaining temporarily part of his lost strength at Waikīkī. At that time, the Guards mutinied – not against the King, but rather, unanimously against their drill master Captain Joseph Jajczay, a Hungarian.
Shortly after, at the request of the king, a delegation of three of the mutineers went out to see him at Waikīkī; he told them they must submit to orders and trust to his clemency. The mutineers obeyed his order to stack arms, but they stayed in the barracks, instead of going to their homes as they were expected to do.
While some reports suggest the mutiny was triggered because the drill-master was very strict and planned to punish some of the men for a breach of duty, other reports suggest otherwise.
One report noted, “During the reign of Lunalilo a mutiny occurred among the Household Guard which was then occupying the old stone barracks now used by the United States Army Quarter Masters Department. The men mutinied over the kind of poi being issued to them as rations and defied the authority of the king to make them obey orders until new poi was given them.” (The Independent, March 13, 1902)
“Two companies of volunteers, the Honolulu Rifles and the Hawaiian Calvary, some forth men in all, were called out but were given nothing to do beyond serving as a rather ineffectual guard for parts of two days.” (Kuykendall)
After further negotiation, the mutineers obeyed the king’s order. Lunalilo then issued a decree disbanding the Household Troops and the kingdom was thus left without any regular organized military force.
But Lunalilo died a year later, and the newly-elected king, Kalākaua, restored the army, and named it the Household Guard. (It was reported Kalākaua sympathized and sided with the mutineers and advised and instigated them.)
In 1893, the Provisional government disbanded the guards and used the Barracks for munitions storage.
It is unclear how many soldiers made up the Hawaiian army. Some suggest the 60 Household Guards was the total strength.
Kuykendall put the Hawaiian army at 272; this is consistent with the Blount report that noted an affidavit by Nowlein, commander of the palace troops that put its strength at 272 (with an additional local police force of 224.)
The memory and legacy of the Royal Guard lives on through two venues. In 1916, the US Army’s 32nd Regiment was first organized on Oʻahu. At its activation, it was known as “The Queen’s Own” Regiment, a title bestowed by the last queen of Hawaiʻi, Liliʻuokalani.
In addition, the Royal Guard of the Hawaiʻi National Guard is an Air National Guard ceremonial unit which re-enacts the royal bodyguards of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.
The unit, created in 1962, is made up of Hawaiian resident Hawaii Air National Guardsmen, who are either full Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian ancestry. The current unit is ceremonial unit only and serves the Governor for official State functions and other public functions.
The unit is structured in the same way as the original organization. The governing body, or “Na Koa Hoomalu Kini O Ka Moi” (King’s Body Guards), is composed of five men elected by the general membership. The five men, in turn, select the “Kapena Moku” (Commander of Troops).
The impact of the re-creation of the Royal Guard on the community was best described by Hawaiʻi’s Governor, John A. Burns when he said, “The traditions of the past are, to me, means by which we gain strength to meet the trials of the present and the future.” (ngef-org)
The image shows the Royal Guard outside their barracks. In addition, I have posted other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
“In referring to the several journals of the day one is struck with the absence of any account of the occurrence at the time”. (Thrum)
While local papers appear to have had stories squashed by a “pocket veto” of the King, a couple mainland papers ran short stories on the tragic events and follow-up.
“No legal notice of the event was in any way taken; no person would have been foolhardy enough to propose it. It is not my purpose to defend the right of the king to this execution of summary vengeance, especially as it was done in a moment of anger; yet beyond the sadness of the act, it has a certain bearing on this sketch of my life as one of the descendants from the ruling families of Hawaii.” (Liliʻuokalani)
“On Sunday, September 11th, 1859, occurred a melancholy and tragical affair at Lahaina, which, as a matter of history, should not be omitted in these recollections.” (Thrum)
“The first news we received was that the king in a fit of passion had shot and mortally wounded one of the party, his own secretary, Mr. HA Neilson. After the occurrence all that the tenderest of brothers could have done was proffered by the king to the wounded man; but after lingering for some months, Mr. Neilson died.“ (Liliʻuokalani)
“(T)he community was electrified by the intelligence, from Lahaina, that his Majesty had shot, and dangerously, if not fatally, wounded Henry A Neilson, formerly of New York, but since the accession of the King … his private secretary and constant attendant, confident and friend.” (New York Times)
“Much more might be said, were I disposed to report every flying rumor. Conjecture is alive to the motive of such an imprudent, impolitic act. The first supposition of all is that it was jealousy – whether well-founded or baseless. But no breath of suspicion lights upon the young Queen. She is by every one acquitted of such a folly and dishonor as giving any cause of vengeance to her lord. She is above reproach.” (New York Times)
“I incline to the opinion that the act was committed under the influence of ungovernable passion, accompanied by more or less of temporary mental aberration brought on by brooding on his troubles. There seemed to be a distinct intention to kill the man he shot. For this some assign as the cause jealousy, created by ill-disposed persons in his train; others anger at indiscretions of Neilson. All feel deeply for the Queen.” (New York Times)
The Honolulu Advertiser ventured an editorial on September 28 and actually mentioned the act (“the king shooting his secretary”) but with no details. They said the act was “an open contradiction to the laws of God and man, which can under no pretext be justified.” Yet, it concluded: “He has erred, so we are all liable to commit acts of error.” (Theroux)
On October 12 the king wrote a letter to Neilson in which he “regretted” this “great false act of my life … the act committed by me was premeditated, founded upon suspicions long harrowed up and extending for a length of time.” (Theroux)
King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho) announced that he would make a public proclamation, submit to a trial and abdicate the throne. A flurry of letters were exchanged between the king and his minister of foreign affairs, Robert Wylie.
The King listed his reasons for abdication, but Wylie begged him not to exaggerate the gravity of the affair and opposed the proclamation. He insisted that “no emergency has occurred,” that “abdication” would be “a shame on himself” and “annihilation on the sovereignty of the nation.” (Theroux)
The Privy Council and the House of Nobles, the legislatures of the day, advised against “abdication.” One of the few items that appeared in the papers was a notice from the Privy Council that, despite rumors, the king would not abdicate his throne. “We are authorized to state, for the purpose of allaying any anxiety that may exist in the public mind, that the rumors in regard to his Majesty’s abdication are, we are happy to say, without foundation.” (New York Times)
By October 20, McKibbin reported to the king that Neilson was “feverish and in low spirits.” On November 20, he suffered a relapse and the wound opened “afresh.”
“There were causes which were apparent to any of our people for something very like righteous anger on the part of the king. His Majesty was trying to make us each and all happy; yet even during moments of relaxation, undue familiarity, absence of etiquette, rudeness, or any other form which implied or suggested disrespect to royalty in any manner whatsoever, would never be tolerated by anyone of the native chiefs of the Hawaiian people.” (Liliʻuokalani)
“To allow any such breach of good manners to pass unnoticed would be looked upon by his own retainers as belittling to him, and they would be the first to demand the punishment of the offender. It was in this case far too severe. No one realized that more than the king himself, who suffered much distress for his victim, and was with difficulty dissuaded from the abdication of his throne.” (Liliʻuokalani)
“If ever mortal man suffered the pangs of remorse it was Liholiho the king. From the first sober moment, if he was drunk, he never forgot the deed, and all that he could order done for the poor unfortunate sufferer was done to relieve him.” (Gorham D. Gilman, in Thrum)
“I used to visit Mr. Neilson and never a word did I hear him utter against the king. I believe that they were two friends until that fateful night. … In my recollection Kamehameha IV was the most of a gentleman in his manner of the five kings I was favored to be acquainted with. He was so from boyhood.” (Gorham D. Gilman, in Thrum)
“The (then) seaside cottage of the king, on the present site of the Enterprise Mill, was assigned to him for a residence. Subsequently he was moved to a cottage on Alakea street, just below the Wicke’s premises, and which he occupied to the time of his death, which occurred February 12th, 1862, as shown by the following notice in the Advertiser of the 13th: “Yesterday morning, Mr. Henry A. Neilson died in this city. In former years he was well known, but for two and a half years past has been confined to his room by the unfortunate occurrence which is familiar to all.” (Thrum)
There was never an official investigation into the shooting of Henry Neilson.
On the 27th of August, 1862, Prince Albert, the four-year-old son of Alexander Liholiho and Emma died. “The king and queen had the sympathy of all parties in their bereavement; but Kamehameha IV completely lost his interest in public life, living in the utmost possible retirement until his death.” (Liliʻuokalani)
The king became a recluse, suffering from asthma and depression. He died on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30, 1863, two months’ short of his 30th birthday. Emma ran unsuccessfully for the throne in 1874, losing to David Kalākaua. She died in 1885 at the age of 50.
The image shows Henry Neilson; in addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.