Hulihee Palace seawall work ahead; bigger revamp eyed next year

  • A wedding takes place on the lawn of Hulihee Palace on Saturday. (Tom Hasslinger / West Hawaii Today)
  • A man takes a photo of a woman fronting Hulihee Palace. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • Hulihee Palace and its grounds. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Repairs to a seawall damaged by high surf this summer and site improvements are planned for Hulihee Palace in the heart of Kailua Village.

The work, which will take an estimated two to four weeks to complete, is needed for public health and safety, said Dan Dennison, spokesman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. A start date has not yet been set.

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The project, being undertaken by the department’s Division of State Parks, includes removing debris from a section of the seawall that runs along the pathway on the makai side of the palace grounds and placing up to 10 temporary barriers to secure the area from public access to ensure the safety of palace visitors, staff and those accessing the seawall, he said.

Also planned is the installation of 20 wooden planter boxes on the southwest wall to “secure the open spaces from property damage and feces from unauthorized entry from Alii Drive,” said Dennison.

All of the work will be monitored by a State Parks archaeologist “to ensure that archaeological sites and historical features are not disturbed while repair work is taking place,” he said.

The Kailua Village Design Commission will take up reviewing the design work for the project today during the commission’s first of two meetings scheduled this month at the West Hawaii Civic Center’s Planning Department Conference Room, Building E, 2nd floor. The meeting is set for 5:15 p.m., with statements from the public being taken.

The state sought to begin the project shortly after high surf damaged the seawall in July.

“Due to current County permitting requirements, the project will start as soon as all County approvals are obtained and coordination with the Daughters of Hawaii on their activities at the Palace,” Dennison said.

Funds for the project will come from the state Capital Improvement Project budget. A final price tag has yet to be set for the project.

“We are still obtaining cost information, as we wanted to ensure that all permits are in place before we commit to any procurement,” he said.

Hulihee Palace was built in 1838 by Gov. John Adams Kuakini and became the Kona residence of Princess Ruth before Kalakaua revamped it for use as his summer palace. Until 1914, when it was sold, the palace was used as a royal home.

Efforts by the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co., which went on to build Kona Inn, to purchase the property in the 1920s were blocked the Daughters of Hawaii, which lobbied the Territory of Hawaii to purchase the palace. In 1925, the purchase was executed and the palace was leased to its caretakers, Daughters of Hawaii.

Restoration of the palace was finished in 1927 and several subsequent restorations, including in 1976 and 2007 following the October 2006 earthquakes, have maintained Hulihee.

Another restoration is being planned, Dennison said.

“Significant renovations to the palace interior and exterior areas, palace grounds and sea wall repairs are currently in design,” Dennison said. “Major concerns are improvements to the Palace foundations, roofing and interior walls, floors and windows; and drainage.”

Funding has yet to be secured, however, Dennison noted the state plans to ask for the monies from the 2020 Legislature, which opens in mid-January.

The Daughters of Hawaii and the Calabash Cousins are the caretakers for Hulihee Palace, which is administered by the Division of State Parks. Hulihee Palace was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

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Attempts to reach Hulihee Palace officials were unsuccessful as of press time on Monday.

Check out the full Kailua Village Design Commission agenda online at www.hawaiicounty.gov.

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