Washington Place in downtown Honolulu appears a bit peculiar amid the towering office buildings and bustling businesses. But long before those other sleeker, shinier buildings were erected, this tidy two-story property was the home of Hawai'i's governing leaders.
Built in 1847, Washington Place was the residence of a dozen Hawai'i governors as well as Queen Liliuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch. Today, Washington Place has been converted into a museum allowing visitors to view the home of so many of the people who shaped the political destiny of Hawai'i over a century ago.
Like many other elected officials' residences, it is difficult to imagine anyone actually living in Washington Place. The grand dining area, the immaculate furnishings, even the paint on the walls, seem to cast an air of regality that doesn't exist in normal homes.
Most houses, after all, have laundry strewn on the floor, dust collecting on the desks, and half-filled trash bags waiting to be thrown out. Of course, most people aren't expecting to host visiting diplomats or foreign heads of state, which Washington Place has done numerous times.
Another distinguishing design feature of Washington Place is the large windows in every room. Since the building was constructed before the invention of light bulbs and because of the prominent Hawaiian sunshine, the large panes were essential in lighting the rooms during the day.
Currently, Governor Linda Lingle lives in a new residence that was completed in 2001. However, in what must have been an effort to confuse the populace, the new Governor's house is also named Washington Place and sits on the same property as the old Washington Place. While this makes it easy to remember the name of the buildings, things can get a little tricky if there is a meeting held at Washington Place.
Historic Washington Place may be well-worn and slightly worse-for-wear, but it is a building that is a bridge to yesteryear and a link to some of the state's most powerful people.
- Monday through Friday: hours vary depending on organizational events
- Free, although donations are welcome
- Location: 320 S Beretania St. Honolulu, HI
- Phone: 808-586-0248
- Website: www.hawaii.gov