In 1838, John Adams Kuakini built Huliheʻe as his primary residence. When Kuakini died Huliheʻe passed to his hānai son, William Pitt Leleiōhoku. Leleiōhoku died a few months later, leaving Huliheʻe to his wife, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani. Kamehameha IV (Ruth’s half-brother) signed a lease with Princess Ruth for Huliheʻe; the King and Queen Emma moved to Kona for a 4-month stay in 1858. In May, 1861, Lady Jane Franklin, widow of a famed explorer, visited the palace. When King Lunalilo became ill, Princess Ruth and Queen Emma urged him to recover at Huliheʻe; he later returned to Honolulu and died shortly thereafter.
Princess Ruth died in her hale pili at Huliheʻe. Shortly after King Kalākaua finished building ʻIolani Palace (1882,) he purchased Huliheʻe from Pauahi’s estate in 1885 and turned Huliheʻe into his summer residence. Kalākaua died in 1891 and his wife, Queen Kapiʻolani, inherited the palace. Upon her death in 1899, the property went to her nephews, Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole and Prince David Kawānanakoa. In 1925, the Territory of Hawaiʻi purchased the property then turned it over to the Daughters of Hawaiʻi to run it as a museum (which they continue to do today.)