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Sunday, March 21, 2004



[ A WALKING TOUR ]

Holoholo Honolulu


Queen’s spirit prevails
in historic home


Washington Place was built in 1842 by Capt. John Dominis, who was lost at sea en route to China to purchase household goods for the new house. He and his family had settled in the islands five years earlier, and began construction of the coral-block structure when they fell in love with the islands.

The style of the mansion is Greek Revival, typical of large American homes of the period.

Over the years, additions and various lanais were added to the structure, but the face it presents to downtown Honolulu is largely unaltered. One of the striking things about the residence is the way it is framed by its grounds.

Of the Widow Dominis, it was said "more often than not, she had the gardening tools out."

Mrs. Dominis made ends meet by renting out rooms. One of her tenants, the American ambassador to Hawaii, told such entertaining stores about George Washington that they inspired King Kamehameha III to dub the residence "Washington Place" in 1848.

The captain's son, John Owen Dominis, married Lydia Kamakaeha Paki, a noted composer who enjoyed playing music in the large home. When her brother Kalakaua was elected king of Hawaii, she was named heir, and became Queen Liliuokalani in 1891 and moved to nearby Iolani Palace. She was deposed in 1893, and after being kept under house arrest, she returned to the home she knew best and spent the rest of her life working for Hawaiian rights, holding vast receptions in the home.

Before Liliuokalani died, she insisted that the American flag be flown over her home every day.

In 1921, at the instigation of Prince Kuhio, the Territory of Hawaii took over the residence as living quarters for standing governors.

The Cayetanos were the last of 12 gubernatorial families to occupy Washington Place. The grand old building is currently being reconditioned as a historic residence and a reception area.

Washington Place has been largely preserved in the spirit of Liliuokalani.

She spent most of her life there, and died in the downstairs bedroom, where the actual bed -- an ornate mahogany piece in New England Yankee style -- still occupies pride of place.

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Washington Place

Opened: 1846
Architect: Isaac Hart
Style: Colonial Greek Revival
Address: 320 S. Beretania St.
National Register: 1973 #73000666
Hawaii Register: No



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BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM
Once home to Hawaiian royalty, Washington Place became home to Hawaii's governors until a new home was built on the grounds during the Cayetano administration to allow Washington Place to be preserved for the public.


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FILE PHOTO
Washington Place was built in 1842 by Capt. John Dominis, who was lost at sea before furnishing it.



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Every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin Travel section, rediscover the charms of old Hawaii through a tour created by the Honolulu Historic Trail Committee and Historic Hawai'i Foundation and supported by the city's Office of Economic Development. The yearlong project commemorates Honolulu's bicentennial.


See Holoholo Honolulu for past articles.

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