King Kalākaua built ‘IOLANI PALACE to enhance the prestige of Hawai‘i overseas and to mark Hawai‘i’s status as a modern nation. Today, ‘Iolani Palace remains the only palace to have housed ruling royalty in the United States.
In August 1882, King David Kalākaua opened the palace doors to welcome members of his legislative assembly and other invited dignitaries to view his official residence. Later, renowned guests from around the world sat at the king’s dinner table, among them Prince Oscar of Sweden and Norway, and Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson.
Architects Thomas J. Baker, C.S. Wall and Isaac Moore created a palace for the modern age. Built in the American Florentine style, the palace had electricity four years prior to the White House, and the king installed a telephone in his office so he could keep in immediate contact with his chamberlain.
Upon King Kalākaua’s death, this home became the official residence of his sister, Queen Lili‘uokalani, the last monarch of Hawai‘i. She was deposed in 1893, and the palace immediately became a heavily trafficked government office building.
In 1969, restoration work began with the help of the Junior League, and ‘Iolani Palace now boasts its original beauty. However, many of the objects and artifacts were auctioned following the overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani; the recovery and restoration of original palace furnishings continues today.
Deemed a National Historic Landmark, ‘Iolani Palace is located in downtown Honolulu on the corner of King and Richards streets. Docent-led tours are available to the public on Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and Thursdays, 9 a.m.- 2:30 p.m., and must be booked in advance online. Reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis. Self-guided audio tours are available Wednesdays, 1:30-2:30 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information and updates, call 808-522-0822 or visit iolanipalace.org.