Maui News

Washington Place celebrates 175th anniversary

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Washington Place. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Washington Place, a National Historic Landmark and the executive mansion of the governor of the State of Hawaiʻi, celebrates 175 years with commemoration festivities to kick off later this month.

The commemoration theme, “E Ola Mau I Ke Kumu,” interpreted as “A Strong Foundation to Grow and Thrive,” recognizes the role that Washington Place has played as the foundation for Hawaiʻi’s leaders “to live, govern and support state’s growth and prosperity.”

Washington Place is perhaps best known as the home to Mōʻī Wahine, Queen Liliʻuokalani. She resided in the home for a total of 55 years, only leaving for ‘Iolani Palace during her reign, 1891-1893, and imprisonment in 1895. Queen Liliʻuokalani would use Washington Place as home base as she composed music, cultivated gardens, supported Hawaiian causes, and fought for her people’s well-being until her passing there in 1917.

The 175th anniversary of Washington Place will kick off on Thursday, March 31 at 9:30 a.m. with a simultaneous statewide hula livestreamed via Zoom, showcasing fourth graders from around the Islands. The students will perform Liliʻu Ē, a chant originally composed for Princess Kīna‘u and modified for dedication to Queen Lili‘uokalani. It is also known as The Queen’s Hula. The hula performance is in conjunction with the state of Hawai‘i Department of Education’s Hawaiian studies curriculum.

As part of the commemoration, Governor David Ige will issue a State of Hawai‘i proclamation recognizing the 175th anniversary of Washington Place.

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“Throughout the 175th anniversary of Washington Place, events are planned to recognize and share the significance, importance and history of this home,” said First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige, chair of the 175th anniversary celebration. “Commemoration events will also honor the spirit of Queen Liliʻuokalani through mele (song), hula, and moʻolelo (history) to leave a legacy for future generations.”

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The launch event will also feature speakers and performances, including:

  • Presentations of special messages and acknowledgements of the Commemoration of the 175th Anniversary of Washington Place
  • A musical performance by the Department of Education’s Hawaiian Studies Program, Kūpuna Ensemble featuring Queen Liliʻuokalani’s compositions

Additional commemoration events include: 

  • April 1 – Washington Place 175th Anniversary Exhibit, the second-floor exhibit will also be open as part of the Arts at the Capitol program from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • April 2 – Washington Place 175th Anniversary Concert presented by the Royal Hawaiian Band and Open House

Admission is free and reservations can be made using the online form: https://washingtonplace175.eventbrite.com

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More about Washington Place:

Construction of the home began in 1842 by Captain John Dominis, an Italian American ship captain and merchant, who traded in the Pacific. Unfortunately, he was lost at sea and was never able to live in the house upon its completion in 1847. In order to keep the house, his wife, Mary Dominis, chose to take in boarders, including Anthony Ten Eyck, the United States Commissioner, who suggested to Mary Dominis in 1848 that she name the house after America’s first president, George Washington. Permission was granted by King Kamehameha III, with the provision that the house retains the name “in all time coming.”

Built by John and Mary Dominis, and designed and constructed by Isaac Hart, Washington Place encompassed much of the prevalent architectural style of the early to mid-nineteenth century in the United States, more specifically New England. Adapting to its families, it has now doubled in its original size with an added 7,000-square-feet separate structure.

From 1918 to 2002 the house was home to Hawaiʻi’s territorial and state governors. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2007. Today, Washington Place is a historic home that still serves as a place for official functions of the Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi and was the only official residence of a state governor in the United States that was also home to a monarch. The home remains a gracious gathering place where the legacy of Queen Liliʻuokalani and the memories of all those who called Washington Place their home are still honored.

Washington Place. Courtesy of the State Archives

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