Cracks were visible on the exterior walls above the side entrance of Hulihee Palace on the Big Island following the Oct. 15 earthquakes. The palace, built in 1838, was badly damaged in the quakes, and so were many of the items in the museum inside.
Quake-hit palace awaits funding
The Big Island's Hulihee Palace needs major repairs from the Oct. 15 temblors
KAILUA-KONA » Hulihee Palace officials have a good idea what it will cost to repair the damage from the Oct. 15 earthquakes -- $1.5 million -- but they do not know where all the money will come from or when the restoration will be completed.
The palace overlooking Kailua Bay took major damage in the temblor that rattled the entire state, but has been declared structurally sound, administrator Fanny Au Hoy said.
The estimate covers shoring up the southern wall and replastering the interior and exterior walls of the six-room building, which was built in 1838 of lava rock, coral mortar, stucco and plaster.
Two rooms -- the entry hall and the dining room -- have reopened for public tours, and a video shows the historical artifacts that usually are on display. The actual artifacts have been tucked away for safekeeping until repairs can be made.
More than $50,000 was raised at a First Hawaiian Bank event in Honolulu, and other donations have been coming in, including some from the mainland. Before the quake, the palace had been getting 200-300 visitors per day.
Speaking Tuesday at the Destination Kona Coast lunch, Au Hoy said federal assistance is expected but has not yet been allocated.
"No, we don't have the money yet," she said.
"Preservation always comes with a big dollar sign in front of it. The message is that here is a jewel, an oasis in our village. We need to preserve her, this grand lady."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has indicated it will cover 75 percent of the cost, about $1.1 million. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources also is expected to contribute, but the rest is being raised by the Daughters of Hawaii, the volunteer organization that operates the palace museum.
The group is hoping contributions from the Historic Hawai'i Foundation and National Historic Foundation, as well as other grants and private donations will add up to the nearly $300,000 still needed.
"We've applied everywhere possible for money," Au Hoy said. "The people from the community and our former visitors have responded overwhelmingly, and with the support of the community, we can't help but succeed."
At the luncheon, Destination Kona Coast gave Au Hoy a check for $1,000, and the Daughters of the American Revolution Hawaii Loa Chapter presented her with a check for $1,100.
"The palace is an integral part of the community, and we look forward to the day it is restored to its pre-earthquake condition," chapter regent Joy Hofer said.
Au Hoy said there is no time line for repairs or for a complete reopening.
"As soon as we get the funding and contractors, it will probably take six to eight months," she said. "The frustrating part is the waiting on the bureaucracy and all the paperwork."
Visitors can peer into the heavily damaged south-side parlor.
Huge cracks opened up along the southern wall, and molding in every room fell away, leaving a huge mess and an emotional staff.
"It was just heartbreaking," Au Hoy said, "but we were blessed."
Only three palace artifacts suffered minor damage, and will be repaired, she said.
Hulihee Palace was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1973.