Repairing the Repairs on ‘Iolani Palace

Built by King Kalakaua between 1879-1882, National Register listed ‘Iolani Palace is made of plastered brick, with ‘American Italianate’ towers at each corner and at the center of the mauka and makai elevations. On its grounds are ‘Iolani Barracks (1871), which was moved to the site in c1966, the Coronation Pavilion (1883), the Old Archives (1906 with 1929 additions) and the Mausoleum, which predates the Palace. The site is surrounded by a plastered coral block wall topped by an iron fence dating from 1893.

  • In 1978 Glenn Mason (while working for another firm) was charged with managing the reconstruction of the ‘Iolani Barracks. Moved from the site now occupied by the Capitol, the Barracks’ coral blocks had deteriorated to rubble. Working from old photographs the walls were plastered in a pattern to match the original blocks and the interior and exterior renovated and restored.
  • MAI has been the project architect for 14 major phases of restoration work on the palace and its accessory buildings/structures, diagnosing problems that arise as the buildings have continued to age. In some cases, 1970s restoration work is being repaired, sometimes with better systems or more compatible materials that were not available 40 years ago.
  • Since 1981 Mason Architects’ work has involved:
    • Work on the palace itself, including maintenance of and improvements to the roofing and finishes, HVAC, installation of new basement exhibit galleries, drawings of historic furnishings for reconstruction, security systems and installation of site lighting and walkways
    • A 1985 restoration of the Coronation Pavilion, which had been moved, rebuilt in 1910, and set on a concrete base in 1920
    • A 1987 restoration and adaptive reuse of the Old Archives (Kana‘ina) Building as offices for the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace. The building was updated to meet ADA requirements with the installation of an unobtrusively placed access ramp and the creation of new accessible restrooms. Extensive research on historic finishes led to the restoration of historic color schemes, exposing and refinishing stone baseboards and terrazzo flooring and the skylight in the primary historic spaces
    • Work on the grounds including restoration of the original entrance gates, the Kalakaua Fountain and various pergolas, reconstruction of guard shacks, re-creation of the original entrance pillars, as well as installation of walkways and historically inspired benches
    • Work continues with maintenance and repairs as necessary to the Palace and grounds, including the just-completed restoration of 3,000 linear feet of perimeter walls, fences, and gates

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Old Archives Building Photo: Augie Salbosa.

‘Iolani Palace.