History of Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace represents a time in Hawaiian history when King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, walked the halls and ruled the Hawaiian Kingdom. The Palace complex contains beautiful memories of grand balls and hula performances, as well as painful ones of Liliuokalani’s overthrow and imprisonment. Since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, the Palace has undergone many changes as it once served as the Capitol for almost 80 years and was later vacated and restored to its original grandeur in the 1970s.
A Palace for Royalty
The cornerstone for Iolani Palace was laid on December 31, 1879 with full Masonic rites and construction was completed in 1882. The Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian monarchs, where they held official functions, received dignitaries and luminaries from around the world, and entertained often and lavishly.
Queen Liliuokalani succeeded her brother upon his death on January 20, 1891. She was determined to strengthen the political power of the Hawaiian monarchy. Her attempts to affect change caused great opposition from the Committee of Safety, who later orchestrated the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and the establishment of a provisional government with support of the American Minister to Hawaii.
Restoration of the Palace
Following the overthrow of the monarchy, Iolani Palace became the government headquarters for the Provisional Government. Following the death of Kalakaua and later the overthrow, many of the Palace’s original furnishings were sold at public auction and personal belongings were returned to the royal family. In the decades that followed, the Palace served as the government capitol building for the Republic, Territory, and eventually, the State of Hawaii.