Every time I drive the Pali Highway toward Kailua, I glance at the sign that reads, “Queen Emma Summer Palace.” But, until now, something’s always stopped me from turning into the property.
This time, though, I made the effort to visit this charming Victorian Era home (maybe because the venue offered free admission that day), and I’m so glad I did! Here’s what I learned during my visit to this incredible site:
The Hawaiian name for the Queen Emma Summer Palace in Honolulu is Hanaiakamalama (The Foster Child of the Moon), and it served as a retreat for Queen Emma of Hawaii from 1857 to 1885, as well as for her husband King Kamehameha IV, and their son, Prince Albert Edward.
The home was actually built in 1848 by John Lewis, a part-Hawaiian businessman, who purchased the property from the Hawaiian Government. According to the Lewis family, the house frame and siding were cut in Boston and shipped to Hawaii via Cape Horn.
In 1850, the property was sold to Queen Emma’s uncle, John Young II, for $6,000 and given the Hawaiian name, named after his ancestral home on the island of Hawaii. In 1857, Young, then childless, willed the home to his niece, Emma.
Today, the house is a museum which displays Queen Emma’s possessions, along with those of her husband, son, and other members of the Hawaiian royal families. According to my tour guide, about 75% of the items belonged to Queen Emma and her family. The remaining 25% are pieces that are representative of the Victorian Era. She mentioned that all of the items on display are original, which just added to the beauty of the venue.
We were lucky enough to wander through all the rooms in the home:
Entrance Hall – feather standards (kahili); royal coat of arms.
Front Bedroom (originally the Dining Room) – Large bed of Acacia koa; Prince Albert’s cradle; Queen Emma’s sleigh bed; Prince Albert Edward’s bathtub
Parlor – Queen Emma’s baby grand piano; 3 feather capes; koa dining table and chairs; imari porcelain jardinière given by Emperor Meiji to King Kalakaua
Cloak Room – Royal feather cloak
Back Bedroom – Queen Emma’s koa bed; Prince Albert Edward’s koa crib; display cabinet with Prince Albert’s velvet suit, etc.
Center Hall – Silver christening vessel given by Queen Victoria; tiger claw necklace; stereopticon given by Napoleon III on Queen Emma’s visit to France in 1865; kapa cloth artifacts; feather standards (kahili)
Edinburgh Room – Royal cabinet with china given by Queen Victoria; rosewood furniture; piano; chair and settee
As a treat, we even had the opportunity to see Queen Emma’s actual gown from her 1856 wedding!
If you’ve booked a Circle Island Tour through Hawaii Aloha Travel, a detour to the Queen Emma Summer Palace in Honolulu would be a great “add-on” to your trip. Make sure you ask your tour guide if a visit to the venue would be possible.