The King Kamehameha Statue
The Kamehameha Statue stands in front of Ali’iōlani Hale which was started in 1872 and completed two years later. Designed by Thomas Rowe, the building was originally going to be a palace and serve as the King’s residence. But, this was changed when King Kalakaua saw it and thought it was not “grand” enough to be seen as the Kings residence. After all, the Palace was to beHawaii’s answer to the United States’ Whitehouse. The building eventually became the Kingdom treasury, Supreme Court, and other government offices. Today, it continues to be the Hawai’i State Supreme Court. Tours free.
The Kamehameha Statue was to celebrate the first ruler of all of Hawaii, King Kamehameha, also known as Kamehameha the Great. Commissioned in 1878, Thomas B. Gould was to sculpt the statue. David Kalākaua sent Gould a picture of John Timoteo Baker (part-Tahitian/part- Caucasian) to use for the image of Kamehameha. Baker’s image was selected for his handsomeness rather than his resemblance to the King. The statue was cast in Paris and when finished was shipped to Hawaii. Enroute, just off the Falkland Islands, the ship caught fire and sank. With the insurance money, a second (copy) statue was made. The “copy” was unveiled at this site during King Kalākaua’s 1883 coronation ceremony and that is what you see today, standing in front of Ali’iōlani Hale.
The original statue was eventually recovered and is now standing at Kamehameha’s birth place in Kapaau, Kohala, on the Big Island of Hawai’i. There is another copy of the statue which in 1969 was placed in Statutory Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Each of the 50 states has two statues there representing its greatest people. Kamehameha is one and we will see the other “great person” in a few minutes.
Past Kamehameha Statue
Just down the street from the King Kamehameha Statue and on the corner you can visit the Kawaihao Church.