Today’s ‘Timeline Tuesday’ takes us through the 1870s –first Kamehameha Day, Reciprocity Agreement, Lili‘uokalani writes Aloha ‘Oe and Iolani Palace is started. We look at what was happening in Hawai‘i during this time period and what else was happening around the rest of the world
The cornerstone for ‘Iolani Palace was laid on December 31, 1879 with full Masonic rites. Construction was completed in 1882; in December of that year King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi‘olani took up residence in their new home. The Palace area was originally enclosed by an eight-foot high coral block wall with wooden gates. Then, Robert Wilcox and other revolutionaries broke into the grounds; after this, a decision was made to tear down the wall surrounding the grounds. In 1889, it was lowered to 3’6″. In 1892, it was topped with the present painted iron fence. New gate arrangements were made, as well. The gates before this time had been flush with the wall, but as part of the improvements, curved walls were built, recessing the gateways into the grounds.
The four principal gates each display the Coat of Arms of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and have a distinctive name and purpose: Kauikeaouli – was used for ceremonial occasions (fronting King Street;) Kīna’u – was used by tradesmen (fronting Richards Street;) Hakaleleponi – used by servants and retainers of the royal household (mauka – facing Capitol;) and Likelike – was reserved for private use by the royal family (facing State Library.) But those are not the only gates onto the Palace grounds – a smaller 5th gate is located on the mauka-Ewa wall (fronting on Palace Walk, just mauka of the Barracks.) Lili‘uokalani added a 5th gate to allow her husband (John Owen Dominis) informal access to the grounds. (There is another gate at the corner of King and Richards.)
King Kalākaua was the first ruling Monarch to tour of the world; in doing so, he made good on his motto, and motivation, proclaimed at his accession, ‘Hoʻoulu Lahui!’- (Increase the Nation!) In Japan, “On the day following their arrival, the royal party were escorted to the Imperial Theatre, Shintomiza. Twenty-eight carriages were required to take the train of Imperial Princes and Princesses, and high dignitaries, who formed the escort of His Majesty the King.”
“One thousand globe shaped lanterns were displayed in front of and around the theatre; and each one had the Imperial Japanese flag, and the Royal Hawaiian standard painted on them.” Following his trip, “King Kalākaua gave a grand ball at the royal palace Ball (in honor of the Prince and Princess Henri de Bourbon of Austria) …. The palace was beautifully decorated with festoons of Chinese lanterns, so thickly that it appeared to be almost covered with them.”
After the overthrow of the monarchy, ʻIolani Palace became the government headquarters (Executive Building) for the Provisional Government, Republic, and then the Territory of Hawai‘i. In 1904, after the appointment of Mr. Carter as Territorial governor, the office of the Governor was redecorated. Originally, the walls were described as being untinted.
“The Governor’s office is being renovated so as to restore some of the old royal splendor. There is to be a touch of robin’s egg blue on the walls and the little crowns on the ceiling are to have their red insertions painted brighter.” The Governor’s office, apparently, became quite famous as the Robin’s Egg Blue Chamber, and remained with this décor into the administration of Governor Frear.
Although Kalākaua had been elected and serving as King since 1874, upon returning from a trip around the world, in 1883, it was determined that Hawaiʻi’s King should also be properly crowned. On Monday, February 12, 1883, the imposing ceremony of the Coronation of their Majesties the King and Queen of the Hawaiian Islands took place at ʻIolani Palace.
In addition to the Western-style style crown, he received a sword, ring and scepter; Kalākaua was also presented with traditional items belonging to ruling Hawaiian chiefs: the feather cloak of Kamehameha I, the kāhili (standard) of Pili, and the pūloʻuloʻu (kapu stick) and lei palaoa (whale tooth pendant.) A couple days later (February 14, 1883,) Kalākaua unveiled the King Kamehameha statue on the grounds of Aliʻiolani Hale (now the home of Hawaiʻi’s State Supreme Court.)