In the late-1860s, plans were underway for a Government Building and the need for this building was even more urgent than that for a palace.
Officials were scattered in rented offices around the town, the legislature had no home and the courts had long since outgrown their quarters in the old coral Court House on Queen Street.
Suggestions were made to develop a government center on the Esplanade at the foot of Fort Street, on recently reclaimed land owned by the government.
This area, it was urged, was close to the business interests of Honolulu, and with the government printing office nearby, would make a convenient civic center, Kamehameha V, however, envisioned a civic center around the palace, and plans were made to purchase the Mililani premises on King Street, ‘a long and fatiguing journey (away) over the dustiest street in the city.’
In 1871, King Kamehameha V commissioned two architects in Sydney, Australia, through the Hawaiian Consul there, to submit plans for a new royal palace in Honolulu. (HABS)
Rather than a palace, the cornerstone of Ali‘iolani Hale to serve as a Government Building was laid on February 19, 1872 with full Masonic ceremony. The new building was of concrete block, a technique first used in 1870 when the government built the Post Office building.
Kamehameha V never saw the completion of the Government Building; nor did they build his new Palace. The Government Building officially opened by the Legislature on April 30, 1874.
‘Ali‘iolani House’ is the name by which the new Government house is to be hereafter known, by command of His Majesty (Kalākaua.) “‘Ali‘iolani’ was one of the titles given to Kamehameha V at his birth, and is now appropriately applied to the building which was projected under his reign.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, May 2, 1874)
In 1882, the Legislature appropriated funds for the construction of a fireproof building to house important government documents and other records. In March 1884, work finally started on the new building in the ’Ali‘iolani Hale Yard.’
It was one of the structures in Kamehameha V’s projected civic center and was given one of the Monarch’s personal names, Kapuāiwa. When completed late in the year, it provided quarters for the Surveyor General, Superintendent of Public Works and Tax Collector.
The original two-story building was constructed by George Lucas in 1884 to house official government documents but was immediately put to use housing government offices instead.
The Kapuāiwa Building is a simpler version of Ali‘iolani Hale which has been described as an ‘English inspired ideal of Italian Renaissance Architecture.’
Architecturally, the Kapuāiwa Building is significant to the Civic Center Complex in Honolulu. It was the third structure in Kamehameha V’s projected civic center and was given one of the Monarch’s personal names, Kapuāiwa. (HHF)
In 1927, Kapuāiwa, by then known as the Board of Health Building because of its long-term occupant, was extensively repaired. In 1930, the Waikiki wing was added in the same character and detail as the original. Extensive renovation to the existing structure was also performed.
Another downtown building carries Kapuāiwa’s names; in 1871, the Kamehameha V Post Office at the corner of Merchant and Bethel Streets was constructed.
Kapuāiwa died on his 42nd birthday (December 11, 1830 – December 11, 1872.) He was given the Christian name Lot and the Hawaiian name Kapuāiwa, which means ‘mysterious kapu’ (taboo) or ‘the sacred one protected by supernatural powers.’ (ksbe)
His mother was Kīnaʻu, a daughter of Kamehameha I (she became the Kuhina nui, in 1832.) His father was Mataio Kekūanāoʻa, a descendent of the Chiefs of the Island of Oʻahu (he was governor of Oʻahu, as well as a member of the House of Nobles and the Privy Council.)
Lot was most often called Lot Kamehameha and that is how he signed his letters and other writings. (ksbe) He had three brothers and a sister (David Kamehameha, Moses Kekūāiwa, Alexander Liholiho and Victoria Kamāmalu, the youngest of the children. (David died in 1835 at the age of seven. Moses was nineteen years old when he died in 1848.) (ksbe)
Lot Kapuāiwa was hānai to Chief Hoapili of Lahaina and Princess Nahiʻenaʻena (daughter of Kamehameha I and Keōpūolani; she was sister to Liholiho and Kauikeaouli (they were later Kamehameha II and III.)) Lot ascended to the throne as Kamehameha V on November 30, 1863, on the death of his younger brother.