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Aliiolani Hale
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Aliʻiōlani Hale is today the home of the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court and the statue of Kamehameha the Great.
Aliiolani Hale is located in Hawaii
Location: King St., Honolulu, Hawaii
Coordinates: 21°18′31″N 157°51′46″W / 21.30861°N 157.86278°W / 21.30861; -157.86278Coordinates: 21°18′31″N 157°51′46″W / 21.30861°N 157.86278°W / 21.30861; -157.86278
Built/Founded: 1871
Architect: Rowe,Thomas; Stirling,Robert
Architectural style(s): Renaissance, Italian Renaissance
Governing body: State
Added to NRHP: February 02, 1972
NRHP Reference#: 72000414


Aliʻiōlani Hale is a building located in downtown Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, currently used as the home of the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court. It is the former seat of government of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and the Republic of Hawaiʻi.

Located in the building's courtyard is the famed gold-leaf statue of Kamehameha the Great.


Establishment and monarchy period

Aliʻiōlani Hale was originally designed in a Renaissance revival style as the royal palace for King Kamehameha V. In the Hawaiian language, Aliʻiōlani Hale means "House of the heavenly King"; also, the name "Aliʻiōlani" was one of the given names of Kamehameha V.

Although the building was designed to be a palace, Kamehameha V realized that the Hawaiian government desperately needed a government building. At that time, the several buildings in Honolulu used by the government were very small and cramped, clearly inadequate for the growing Hawaiian government. Thus, when Kamehameha V ordered construction of Aliʻiōlani Hale, he commissioned it as a government office building instead of a palace.

Kamehameha V laid the cornerstone for the building on February 19, 1872. He died before the building was completed, and it was dedicated in 1874 by one of his successors, King David Kalākaua. At the time, Hawaiian media criticized the building's extravagant design, suggesting that the building be converted into a palace as originally designed.

Until 1893, the building held most of the executive departments of the Hawaiian government as well as the Hawaiian legislature and courts.

Overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy

It was from Aliʻiōlani Hale in 1893 that the Committee of Safety, under the leadership of Lorrin A. Thurston, deposed Queen Liliʻuokalani by public proclamation and the United States Marine Corps was ordered to forcibly remove the reigning queen. A 1993 resolution passed by Congress and signed by President of the United States Bill Clinton declared the use of American military force in 1893 illegal.

After the establishment of the Hawaiian provisional government in 1893 and the Republic of Hawaiʻi in 1894, some of the offices in Aliʻiōlani Hale were moved to ʻIolani Palace, including the Hawaiian legislature. As a result, Aliʻiolani Hale became primarily a judicial building.

Aliʻiōlani Hale since 1900

The growing size of Hawaiʻi's government continued to be a problem for the building, however, especially after Hawaiʻi became a United States territory in 1900. In 1911, the building was extensively renovated to help solve these space problems. The entire interior of the building was gutted and rebuilt, giving the building's interior a completely new floorplan. Since the building was originally designed to be a palace, its floorplan was not adequate for its later usage as a judicial building. The new layout of the building fixed this problem.

The size of the territorial government continued to grow. In the 1940s, a new wing was added to the building to help alleviate the growing problem of overcrowding. The architects who designed the new wing tried to blend it in with the original building that dated back to the 1870s.

Over the next many decades, most of the state judiciary functions moved out of Aliʻiōlani Hale to various other buildings around Honolulu (including the state district, family, and circuit courts). Today, the building houses the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court and is the administrative center of the Hawaiʻi State Judiciary. It also houses the Judiciary History Center, a museum featuring a multimedia presentation of Hawaiʻi's judiciary, a restored historic courtroom, and other exhibits dealing with Hawaiʻi's judicial history. The building also houses Hawaiʻi's largest law library.

In December 2005, the U.S. military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used radar equipment to locate a time capsule buried by Kamehameha V at the building site on February 19, 1872. According to records from the time, the capsule contains photos of the royal family, Hawaiian coins and postage stamps, the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, local newspapers, and books, such as a Hawaiian language dictionary. But despite the radar discovery, the time capsule was not disturbed, in part because digging it up would harm the building's structural integrity.

Aliʻiōlani Hale is one of many buildings in downtown Honolulu listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Within walking distance are the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Hawaiʻi State Capitol, Hawaiʻi State Library, Honolulu Hale, ʻIolani Palace, Kawaiahaʻo Church, Territorial Building, and Washington Place.

Judiciary History Center

The King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, located in Aliʻiōlani Hale, focuses on Hawaii's legal history and landmark court cases. Admission is free and the public can tour the exhibits from Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm. Group tours are offered by reservation.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.  
  2. ^ "King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center". official web site. Retrieved 2009-11-10.  

External links



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