Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani and then Princess Lili‘uokalani built houses on opposite sides of what today is Pua Lane in Kapālama – Ke‘eilokalani was there first with her home Mauna Kalama; Ke‘elikōlani’s Kapālama residence would be joined in 1885 by Princess Lili‘uokalani’s palace called Mu‘olaulani. (Kam)
Mauna Kamala was bounded by Asylum Road (now called Pālama Street) on the northwest, King Street to the southwest and what today is Pua Lane on the southeast. Kanoa Lane today bisects the Mauna Kamala site, though it did not extend to Pālama Street when Princess Ruth’s house was located there.
Lili‘uokalani bought her Kapalama property on December 3, 1884; it had been the property of Simon Ka‘ai (and another subsequent owner).
Sunday, March 29, 1885, Lili‘uokalani moved into her Kapālama home. She recorded in her diary that day: “This is the day that I am supposed to take possession of this house—I think that I shall call it Muolaulani.”
Mu‘olaulani may have been named in honor of Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani. Mu‘olaulani is the name used for her in an 1861 set of songs titled “He Inoa Ka Haku o Hawaii,” listed with her half-brothers Kapuāiwa [Kamehameha V] and ‘Iolani [Kamehameha IV] and half-sister Kalohelani [Kamamalu]. (Kam) Likewise, an article in Ke Au Okoa (February 16, 1871) has a heading, “The birthday of Muolaulani”.
The residence consisted of two single-story wings forming an L-shaped footprint. The wing facing King Street featured a ten-foot deep veranda that stretched across the 100-foot wide front face of the building (around the same width as the Diamond Head face of ‘Iolani Palace) and a similar one on the back face.
The other wing, set at a right angle to the main wing, ran perpendicular to King Street. It, too, was 100 feet in length with a veranda facing southeast toward Diamond Head.
Soon after its opening, Lili‘uokalani composed a song in May 1885, simply titled “Nohea I Mu‘olaulani,” to praise her new suburban home:
He mea nui ke aloha
Ke hiki mai i oʻu nei
Meheʻo kuʻu lei kaimana ala
Kāhiko o kuʻu kino
Kuʻu lei popohe i ka laʻi
Nohea i Muʻolaulani
Ka beauty lā he mau ia
No nā kau a kau
This great love of yours
Has come here to me
It is like my diamond necklace
To adorn my person
My lei so shapely in the calm
Handsome at Muʻolaulani
It is a beauty, always a thing forever
For all seasons
The Hawaiian Gazette (May 27, 1885) notes the reception at Lili‘uokalani’s new home: “HRH Princess Liliuokalani held the first reception in her charming residence at Palama on the afternoon of the 21st inst. The band was stationed on the grounds and played a number of choice selections during the reception hours. The Princess received in person being however assisted, in providing for the comfort of the many callers, by Mrs CB Wilson and Mrs Junins Kaae.”
With the death of Mary Dominis (Lili‘uokalani’s mother-in-law) on April 23, 1889, Liliuokalani and her husband John Dominis moved from Mu‘okalani to Washington Place. Lili‘uokalani would occasionally visited/inspected the Mu‘olaulani property.
On one of those occasions, it was to meet with Robert Wilcox. The heading of a subsequent newspaper article implicates Lili‘uokalani in the Wilcox Rebellion, “Residence of Heir Apparent the Starting Point of the Rebel March”.
That article noted, “R. W. Wilcox, the leader of the revolution, and Albert Loomenn, the Belgian, Wilcox’s first lieutenant, were brought up inside Police Court this morning and charged with treason during the past three months, more particularly on July 29th and 30th.” (Daily Bulletin, August 2, 1889)
In a subsequent statement of AF Judd, Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, Judd noted, “Liliuokalani disavowed to me her knowledge or connivance with Wilcox’s plans, but the fact that the armed party under Wilcox assembled at her own house in the suburbs and started from there to the Palace, gives credence to the belief that she knew of it.”
“I tried Wilcox for conspiracy to commit treason and had to discharge one Hawaiian jury for violent conduct while in the jury box. The second jury acquitted him in spite of his own testimony admitting all the acts which constituted conspiracy.”
“The testimony of that trial showed that Kalakaua was a party to the conspiracy, and only because he was afraid that it would not be successful he failed to go to the palace and promulgate the constitution.” (United States Congressional Serial Set, Volume 4052)
Lili‘uokalani later leased Mu‘olaulani. “Maj. A.G.S. Hawes, the British Commissioner, has taken Liliuokalani’s Palama residence for five years.” (Kam; Hawaiian Star, July 13, 1895)
In May 1897, Hawes would announce a major event: ““The Britannic Majesty’s Commissioner and Consul-General extends a general invitation to the celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday on May 24th from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at his Palama residence.”
The events in Hawai‘i celebrating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, recognizing the sixtieth year of her reign, rose to a crescendo on Friday evening, June 25, 1897, when music and merry-making once again graced the rooms of Mu‘olaulani:
“The reception and ball given by the Commissioner were a proper end of the Jubilee festivities. . . “
“The Commissioner occupies the Palama residence of Queen Liliuokalani and the handsome rooms of that dwelling were decorated in a very artistic manner by lady friends of the genial host.”
“A magnificent floral structure, representing the crown of Hawaii in emblematic colors had been sent to the Commissioner by the retainers of Queen Liliuokalani, at her special request, and had a prominent place in the library …”
“Exquisite refreshments were served during the evening and when the doors of Mr. Hawes residence closed he was again voted by all his guests the host par excellence of Hawaii-nei.”
Hawes died and was replaced by WJ Kenny, Esq. who served as acting British Commissioner and Consul-General. The passing of Hawes also resulted in a renegotiation of the lease of Mu‘olaulani.
The Evening Bulletin reported on Friday, November 12, 1897, that Kenny would “likely occupy the premises of the late Commissioner Hawes at Palama. Negotiations to that end were practically concluded today. Mr. Hawes’ lease of the place will run nearly four years longer, it having been originally made out for five years.” Kenny allowed the Honolulu Cricket Club to use the Mu‘olaulani grounds to practice. (Kam)
Annexation of Hawai‘i to the US on August 19 1898 changed the status of the foreign consulates. William Robert Hoare was recognized as the British Consul at Honolulu. He continued to British tradition and took Mu‘olaulani as his home. His lease there ended on July 8, 1901.
In August 1901, The Honolulu Republican announced the new use for the property: “The old British Consulate, opposite the Dowsett homestead on the Palama road, is now being used as a Japanese hotel.”
Later, the “site of the planning of the Wilcox Rebellion of 1889 had become the rally place for Wilcox’s party in 1903. In early 1904, Mu‘olaulani, a gathering place for the Home Rule party, saw the formation of a new precinct club of the rival Democratic party ‘at the present abode of F. J. Testa at Muolaulani.’” (Kam)
By 1906 Mu‘olaulani was divided into fourteen separate residences and labeled as a tenement (back them “tenement” was used to refer to any property rented to multiple families). (Kam)
In 1911 the Hawai‘i Territorial Senate received a resolution from the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of Honolulu proposing: “that those premises situate at Kapalama, lying on the Waikiki side of Pua Lane, and known as ‘Liliuokalani Premises’, should be made a park for the use of people living in that locality.” The request was ultimately tabled by House of Representatives, ending any further consideration. (Kam)
Lili‘uokalani died at Washington Place on November 11, 1917, and Mu‘olaulani passed to her trust.
Instead of a park marking the location of the Mu‘olaulani, Building 2 of Mayor Wright Homes housing project sits on the former site of the Kapālama residence of Queen Lili‘uokalani.
A service station and building supply store now occupy the King Street frontage of the queen’s property and is still owned by her trust. (The inspiration and information for this summary came from writing by Ralph Kam.)