Aliiolani Hale

Aliʻiōlani Hale is currently the home of Hawaii State Supreme Court, previously housing the government of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the Republic of Hawaii. The infamous gold-leaf statue of Kamehameha the Great can be found in the building’s courtyard.

It was originally designed for King Kamehameha V in a Renaissance style. The name ‘Aliʻiōlani Hale’ means ‘House of the heavenly King’, which was how King Kamehameha V was also known. When first built it was intended to be a palace for the king, however the growing Hawaiian government at this time had very few buildings of their own or the ones existing were small and inadequate. King Kamehameha V soon commissioned the building for government office use.

In February 19, 1872 King Kamehameha V laid the cornerstone of the building. He died before the construction of the palace was completed and dedicated it to one of his successors King David Kalākaua in 1874. The building’s design was criticised by the Hawaiian media due to its extravagant, elaborate style stating it should be used as a palace as first intended.

As a government building up until 1893, it held the majority of executive departments as well as Hawaiian legislation and courts.

After 1893 the Queen Liliʻuokalani was removed by the Committee of Safety, under the leadership of Lorrin. A Thurston from Aliʻiōlani Hale. She was forcibly set down from her reign by the United States Marine Corps under public proclamation. A law was passed by congress in 1933, that the use of American military force was to be illegal under the declaration of the United States President, Bill Clinton.

In 1983 after the Hawaiian government and Republic of Hawaii in 1984 was established, some of the offices in Aliʻiōlani were moved to Iolani Palace, including Hawaiian legalisation. Thus Aliʻiōlani Hale primarily became a judicial building.

The rate the government was growing became an ongoing problem for the building in 1900. From 1911, it underwent several renovation projects to gain extra space. The whole of the building’s interior was completely rebuilt resulting in an entirely new floor plan. The original floor plan was problematic for its judicial usage as it was more suited to the palace function, but was soon corrected by this new layout.

A new wing was added to the building in 1970 due to the continued growth of the government’s size, with the design attempting to match that of the original.

Many of the judiciary state functions moved out of the Aliʻiōlani Hale to other location around Honolulu. What was left in the building and up until present day, is the Hawaii State Supreme Court and the administrative centre of Hawaii State Judiciary. New additional features of the building include the Judiciary history centre; a museum featuring a multimedia presentation of Hawaii's judiciary, a restored historic courtroom, and other exhibits dealing with Hawaii's judicial history as well as Hawaii’s largest library of law.

Aliʻiōlani Hale is one of many buildings in downtown Honolulu listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby infamous sites include Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Hawaii State Capitol, Hawaii State Library,Honolulu Hale, ʻIolani Palace, Kawaiahaʻo Church, Territorial Building, and Washington Place.


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Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated 5 media
    about 6 years ago via
  • updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via Annotator
  • tedkolb
    tedkolb commented
    A great start, let's get more hawaiian landmarks.
    about 7 years ago via iPhone
  • tedkolb
    tedkolb commented
    A great start, let's get more hawaiian landmarks.
    about 7 years ago via iPhone