Stuart Ching, Iolani Palace curator, yesterday presented the restored desk that once belonged to Queen Kapiolani. The work, part of the Pulama I'a program, cost $4,510 and will be on view at the palace today.

Royal desk gleams
again in Iolani Palace


Thursday, Jan. 1, 2004

>> A program to restore a desk and other objects at Iolani Palace is called Pulama 'Ia. The okina in 'Ia was in the wrong place in an article and photo caption on Page A3 yesterday. Also, Dr. William Hobdy, who owned the desk, was a physician at Queen's Hospital, not Straub as incorrectly reported in the story.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

A desk that belonged to Queen Kapiolani has been restored and will be put on display at Iolani Palace this afternoon, the 169th anniversary of her birth.

The desk was restored through a new program called Pulama I'a, which means cherished objects in Hawaiian. The program matches donors with furniture and paintings that need repairs.

Stuart Ching, the palace curator, said the Pulama I'a program began earlier this year and the Kapiolani desk is one of the first pieces restored under the effort.

"Like this desk, many of our pieces have broken pieces that need repair," Ching said. "It's very costly and we're always looking for sponsors."

The restoration of the desk cost $4,510. The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, an organization of women descended from leaders of the 13 original American colonies, donated the money for the restoration.

A gilded pedestal table was restored by an anonymous donor at a cost of $6,500 earlier in the year.

Two portraits of King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamamalu, discovered in Ireland two years ago, were also restored through the Pulama I'a program, Ching said. The restoration of the paintings cost between $1,500 and $1,800 each.

There are other paintings, chairs and tables now in storage that need donations to be restored, Ching said.

The restoration of Kapiolani's desk took about a month. A broken leg needed to be repaired, the surface needed cleaning, and bronze paint was removed to reveal the original gilding on the piece.

After Queen Kapiolani left Iolani Palace, the desk was sold at public auction to Dr. William C. Hobdy, a physician at Straub Clinic, Ching said.

Hobdy moved to San Francisco in 1920 and took the desk with him. The desk returned to Hawaii in the 1930s with William Warner Hobdy, one of Dr. Hobdy's sons. William W. Hobdy's widow, Ruth, donated it to the palace in 1987, Ching said.

The desk will first go on public display at a reception for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America this afternoon. It is being placed in Kapiolani's bedroom, which is one of the rooms open for public tours of the palace.

Ching said because photographs show the desk in her bedroom, the desk will be placed in the exact spot in the room where it was when Kapiolani lived in the palace.

Ching said the restoration of the desk is both a birthday and Christmas gift to the palace, since the desk was finished during the holiday season and the unveiling will be on New Year's Eve, Queen Kapiolani's birthday.

"It (returning a piece to public display) always feels like a present to all the volunteers, staff and the public too."


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