Historic Hulihe'e Palace Survives Earthquake

Hulihe‘e Palace was built in 1838 in Kailua-Kona by the governor of Hawai‘i island, John Kuakini, as his personal residence. Since 1925 the Daughters of Hawai‘i have carefully maintained Hulihe‘e and its collection of artifacts and royal memorabilia. Glenn Mason restored the home in 1978 and has overseen its repairs ever since, including those for damage from a 2006 earthquake.

  • Foreign seaman framed the home with koa and ohia timbers and built the two-foot thick walls of basalt field stones and lime mortar made of burnt coral and beach sand.
  • King Kalākaua and Queen Kapiolani purchased the palace in 1886 as a vacation home, plastering the walls and widening the lanais.
  • By 1920 the palace was in poor condition and in 1925 the Territory of Hawai‘i purchased Hulihe'e to save it. The Daughters of Hawai‘i restored it in 1927-8 and have operated it as a museum ever since.
  • Mr. Mason, while working for Charles Sutton & Associates, restored the interior in 1978; in the 1980s he monitored minor repairs. In the 1990s he guided the restoration of plaster and tile finishes, repair of woodwork, painting, and construction of a vapor-proof storage room in the basement.
  • In 2006 he designed the reconstruction of the kitchen to serve as an office. Shortly thereafter, on October 15, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake caused gables to cave in, walls to bow out, gaps to open between ceilings and walls, and plaster to crack and pop off.
  • Mason Architects reconstructed the walls using the existing stones and mortar that matched the strength of the original mortar; rebuilt interior walls and ceilings with plaster that replicated the original; repaired and reinstalled damaged woodwork; and repainted or refinished all surfaces.

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AWARD: Historic Preservation Honor Award from Historic Hawai‘i Foundation, 2010


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Photography: Daughters of Hawai‘i,MAI

The mauka side of the house with its restored kitchen.