Aliiolani Hale—King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center of Hawaii
The historic Aliiolani Hale building was the first major Western-style structure built by the Hawaiian monarchy and is notable for its distinctive clock tower. Today the building houses the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center which features exhibits as well as multimedia presentations on landmark Hawaii court cases as well as Hawaii’s legal history.
The Center Theater presents two multimedia shows, Kanawai, and Law of the Land while the Monarchy Courts Gallery exhibits information about Hawai‘i’s judicial processes, and the 1913 Court Room exhibits a complete courtroom from that era.
The cornerstone of Aliiolani Hale was laid in 1872 by King Kamehameha V who planned and initiated the building’s construction. Originally intended to be the Royal Palace, Aliiolani instead housed Hawaii’s Supreme Court and also the Legislature. The name Aliiolani means “Chief unto heavens” referring to Hawaiian royalty’s heavenly nature. Aliiolani Hale is the site of many famous events in Hawaiian history including the 1889 revolt led by Robert Wilcox when 150 armed insurgents leading a revolt against King Kalakaua took over the building as well as Iolani Palace. The rebels were disbanded by sharpshooters atop the tower of Kawaiahao Church along with dynamite thrown onto the grounds of Iolani Palace.
After the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 Sanford Ballard Dole stood on the steps of Aliiolani Hale and announced the formation of a Provisional Government. At that time the building was renamed “The Court House” and served as a meeting place for the House of Representatives and House of Nobles until 1896 when the meeting place was moved to Iolani Palace, renamed “The Executive Building.” Aliiolani Hale underwent major reconstruction in 1911 and a new wing was added in 1944. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Aliiolani Hale is located at 417 South King Street in downtown Honolulu. Hours are Monday-Friday, 7:45 am to 4:30 pm. Phone: (808)539-4999. Free admission. Reservations are required for guided tours.