Ali'iolani Hale is a historic building located in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was the former seat of government of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and the Republic of Hawai'i and is the current home of the Hawai'i State Supreme Court and the Kamehameha Statue.
Establishment and monarchy period
Ali'iolani Hale was originally designed as a royal palace for King Kamehameha V. The structure was designed in a Renaissance revival style. In the Hawaiian language, Ali'iolani Hale means House of the Heavenly King; the name "Ali'iolani" 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 the time, the several buildings in Honolulu used by the government were very small and cramped; inadequate for the growing Hawaiian government. Thus, when Kamehameha V ordered construction of Aliiolani Hale, he commissioned it as a government office building instead. Kamehameha V passed away before the building was completed, and the building was dedicated by one of his successors, King David Kalakaua, in 1874.
Immediately after the completion of Ali'iolani Hale, Hawai'i's local media criticized the building's extravagant design and repeatedly recommended that the building be converted back 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 Ali'iolani Hale that in 1893 the Committee of Safety, under the leadership of Lorrin A. Thurston, deposed Queen Lili'uokalani 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 Hawaii in 1894, some of the offices in Aliiolani Hale were moved to Iolani Palace, including the Hawaiian legislature. As a result, Aliiolani Hale became primarily a judicial building.
Aliiolani Hale since 1900
The growing size of Hawaiia's government continued to be a problem for the judicial building, however, especially after Hawaii became a United States territory in 1900. In 1911, the building was extensively renovated to help solve the space problems the building faced. The entire interior of the building was demolished and rebuilt, giving the building's interior a completely new look, including the floorplan which, up until that time, was based on the assumption that Aliiolani Hale was to have functioned as a palace rather than a government building.
The size of the territorial government continued to grow. In the 1940s, an entire new wing was added to the building to help alleviate the continuing space problems the building faced. The architects who designed the new wing tried to design it so that it would be hard to distinguish from the original building that dated from the 1870's.
Over the decades, most of the state courts moved out of Aliiolani Hale to various other buildings around the state. Today, the building continues to house the Hawaii State Supreme Court and is the administrative center of the Hawaii judiciary. It also hosues the Judiciary History Center, a museum featuring a multimedia presentation of Hawaii's judiciary, a restored historic courtroom, and other exhibits dealing with Hawaii's judicial history.
- Unlike nearby Kawaiahao Church and Iolani Barracks, which are made out of coral, Aliiolani Hale is built out of cement blocks.
- The building was built with four clocks in its tower, one facing each direction. For many decades now, however, the clocks have failed to keep time accurately, often being off by many hours. In addition, the four clock faces rarely keep the same time between each other. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper liked to poke fun at this, saying that the clock faces "can never seem to agree on what time it is."
- When Aliiolani Hale was first completed, the room immediately under the clocks was used as an studio for artists hired by the Hawaiian government.
- The building houses Hawaii's largest law library.
- Ali'iolani Hale is one of many buildings in downtown Honolulu that is designated a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. Within walking distance are Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Hawai'i State Capitol, Hawai'i State Library, Honolulu Hale, Iolani Palace, Kawaiahao Church, Territorial Building and Washington Place.