Iolani Palace and Hawaii Five-O

Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Iolani Palace and Hawaii Five-O

The building shown as headquarters for the fictional Hawaii Five-O state police group is the same in both the old series and the new one that premiered Monday. Although it did once house Hawaii state offices, Iolani Palace has not served as the set for Steve McGarrett’s office interior in either version of the series.

The distinctive exterior of Iolani Palace is easy to pick out, both on television and in downtown Honolulu. The first palace was built by King Kalakaua; he and Queen Kapiolani moved into the royal residence in December of 1882. First called Hale Alii (House of the Chief), the name was later changed to Iolani Palace. That palace was demolished in 1874 but the name was kept for the new building, which was outfitted with indoor plumbing and a telephone. Its gas chandeliers were replaced by electric lighting not long after Edison invented the light bulb – five years before the White House.

Some parts of the interior were shown in the original Five-O series, but McGarrett’s office suite was a television set in a Honolulu studio. At the time the first series began (September 20, 1968), Iolani Palace was still being used for state offices. But it had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect. Government offices were moved into a new capitol building in 1969 and restoration of the Palace began. By the ninth season of the show, they were not able to shoot either the interior or exterior of the Palace due to the extensive renovations. Five-O moved offices to the Territorial Building, which also served as the actual television studio for the production.

As with the original, the new Five-O shows the exterior of the Palace. The interior office shots are from the old Honolulu Advertiser building. The newspaper was sold and the building emptied not long before Hawaii Five-O began shooting on the island this summer. It is a beautiful building and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property includes the news building, a warehouse and parking lot. Hawaii Five-O is using them for both a sound stage and office space.