Historic House Museums of Hawaii

Queen Emma’s Summer Palace, Oahu

Queen Emma was the wife of Alexander Liholiho, known as King Kamahameha IV. She was born in 1836 and was known as a gracious and beautiful queen. She and her husband reigned together from 1856 to 1863, and Queen Emma established the first hospital in Hawaii, which has grown to today’s large and sophisticated ‘The Queen’s Medical Center’.

Queen Emma’s Summer Palace was known as ‘Hanaiakamalama’ . It was built in 1848 in a cool green valley, high above Honolulu, which then was a dry area with few trees. The open verandahs and shuttered windows caught the welcome cooling breezes. The house used to be reached only by horseback, but now visitors can visit by more comfortable air-conditioned City buses.

Inside are period rooms and many furnishings and historic artifacts, and wandering through the cool rooms are many items that will catch your interest.

During their reign, Queen Emma and her husband, King Kamehameha IV established warm relations with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Inside the Palace are gifts from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to their good friends in Hawaii, including an ornate glass-fronted cabinet made in Berlin, and a silver container to be used at the christening of the couple’s son, the Prince of Hawaii. Before the christening could take place, and Queen Victoria could become the boy’s godparent, the small Prince tragically died of a fever at age four.

After the King’s death in 1863 Queen Emma travelled to London to raise money for an Anglican cathedral in Honolulu. She met Queen Victoria, and the by-then two widowed queens formed a lasting friendship.

The Palace is actually a comfortable, high-ceilinged bungalow in appearance, but the many royal furnishings within make it clear that it is a Palace.

Photographs inside the Palace are generally forbidden, but visitors who can play the piano are invited to use Queen Emma’s baby grand piano, which was made in Germany and brought to Hawaii by ship around Cape Horn. Visitors are invited to commemorate their musical visit with a photograph.

Around the palace is a lush garden. Here, just below Queen Emma’s home, a small stream runs through a little valley. In the centre is a majestic Indian banyan tree, whose aerial roots form a small forest as they drop from the main tree.

Queen Emma’s Summer Palace is owned and operated by the Daughters of Hawaii.

The Daughters of Hawai’i was farsightedly founded in 1903 by seven daughters of American Protestant missionaries. Born in Hawai`i, they were citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom before annexation, and foresaw the inevitable loss of much of the Hawaiian culture. They founded the organization

“to perpetuate the memory and spirit of old Hawai`i and of historic facts, and to preserve the nomenclature and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian language.”

The Daughters of Hawai’i also preserve another Royal residence on the island of Hawaii – Hulihe’e Palace – which predates Queen Emma’s Palace by ten years, being built in 1838.

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