The History of



A Worthy Tribute to a Well Loved Monarch

History of Queen Lili’uokalani

Born Lydia Liki’u Loloku Walania Kamake’eha on September 2, 1838, Queen Lili’uokalani ruled as the only Queen Regent and the last sovereign monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.  Lili’uokalai reigned for just under three years, from January 29, 1891 to January 17, 1893.

Lydia (Lili’uokalani) was the younger sister of King David Kalakaua (the “Merrie Monarch”).  Lydia and David’s mother was a trusted confidant of King Kamehameha III.  When Kamehameha V died in 1874 leaving no heir apparent, David Kalakaua was elected King.  David and Lydia’s younger brother died three years following David’s election after which Lydia was named Crown Princess and heir apparent to the throne and was henceforth known by the royal name; “Lili’uokalani”.

Thirteen years into King Kalakaua’s reign, in 1887, he was coerced into the signing of the “Reciprocity Treaty” also sometimes called the “Bayonett Constitution”, which was granted certain commercial concessions to wealthy haole business men and also provided the USA rights to use Pearl Harbor.  From that time onward, King Kalakaua had little real power.

Following the death of King Kalakaua in 1891, Lili’uokalani became Hawaii’s first ruling Queen in a short reign that was fighting against the tide of political and commercial interests from the start.  By 1893 wealthy commercial interests staged a coup that resulted in the establishment of a new government, the “Republic of Hawaii” in early 1894, with Sanford Dole as President.

Following an insurrection led by Robert Wilcox on behalf of the monarchy, Lili’uokalani was placed under house arrest in her home at Washington Place where she remained for three years.  Lili’uokalani fought strenuously to regain control of her kingdom even appealing to President Grover Cleveland – asking that he reinstate the Hawaiian Monarchy.  Cleveland was willing to grant Lili’uokalani’s request, on certain conditions (forgiveness of the coup perpetrators) that were unacceptable to Queen Lili’uokalani.  In 1895 Lili’uokanai abdicated the throne to secure the release of several of her key supporters, including Wilcox, and to gain the commutation of their death sentances.  Three years later in 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the United States, made a Territory in 1900, and finally a State in 1959.

Lili’uokalani lived out her final 24 years of life at the Washington Place estate just a short distance northeast of Iolani Palace, but she enjoyed stays at various other residences including “Paoakalani at Hamohamo Waikiki” (near the corner of Kuhio and Liliuokalani Avenues) as well as her “seaside cottage”;  “Kealohilani” at Kuhio Beach.

Today, the reign of Lili’uokalani remains deeply stirring to many people in that it marked the end of the Hawaiian Monarchy and Hawaiian rule of the Islands.  Thankfully, the years since have seen a resergency in a desire to preserve the Hawaiian culture and its traditions and there has emerged a deep appreciation and longing for the early Hawaiian way of life.


The Lili’uokalani Gardens was a product of the economic boom times in Japan during the 1980’s.  The property was opened in 1984 and was built by developer; Hasagawa Komutan as a resort property catering mostly to Japanese visitors who used their units, sometimes, for only a few weeks a year.  Until the mid-1990’s the Lili’uokalani Gardens had valet service, doormen, maid service and a grocery & sundries shop on the ground floor of the Queen Tower.  The property operated in some ways more like a hotel than a residental condominum property.  As the economy of Japan cooled down during the 1990’s and beyond, more and more units were sold to buyers wishing to reside at the “Gardens” full time, and the property gradually transitioned from a vacation resort to a residential property.

When built, the Liliuokalani Gardens was the undisputed “King and Queen” of Waikiki condo living.  Even now, over 35 years later, the Liliuokalani Gardens is one of Waikiki’s most desirable residential communities.  The Liliuokalani Gardens is uncontested as having the most beautiful grounds and gardens of any condominium property in Waikiki and maybe on the entire Island.

Lili’uokalani Gardens was designed to highlight aspects of Hawaiian history and culture.  Since the site was once the lands and gardens of Queen Lili’uokalani, the architect; Fred White of “Architects Hawaii” decided to try to reflect something of the ambiance of those times.  Towards this goal, the designers committed themselves to preserving a maximum amount of space for the world-class gardens and outdoor areas.  The huge 30,000 gallon koi ponds and stream that meander through the property were intended to harken back to a time when a stream flowed through the Queen’s lands to the ocean in this very location.

The 2.75 acre property fills an entire block.  The two 25 story towers house 385 units include 382 luxury residences composed of 138 studios, 204 one-bedroom and 40 two-bedroom apartments.  The foot print of the buildings accomodates less than a third of the total land leaving a majority of the land to its famous, award-winning gardens.

The complex includes 14 different floor plans including penthouse units on the 24th and/or 25th floors.  The penthouse units have roof-top lanais accessed from spiral staircases.

The designers of the “Gardens” paid careful attention to the aesthetics of the property, the archetecture and the furnishings.  $200,000 (nearly $500K in todays dollars) were spent on art for the lobbies including 150′ murals in the elevator lobbies, sculpture (such as the unique water fountain in the King Tower) and the hand-broken and hand-set mosaic tile flooring in the lobby and arcade areas.

Although in 1984 the Lili’uokalani Gardens was the undisputed Queen of luxury condominum properties in Waikiki, remarkably, still today, 35 years later, the Lili’uokalani Gardens is still one of the most sought after, and most loved, condominum properties in Waikiki.