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Kohala Courthouse

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1889. Akoni Pule Hwy., Kapaau
  • (Photograph by Augie Salbosa)

Located on the rise above the statue of Kamehameha I, this single-story courthouse is a rare surviving public building from the monarchy period. Its wide and inviting lanai wraps around three sides. The lanai's chamfered posts and elliptical arches with inscribed ornamentation are notable. Portions of the original interior remain intact, including the judge's bench, witness stand, and the beaded tongue-and-groove walls and ceiling.

The statue of Kamehameha I in front of the building is one of three in Hawaii, and the earliest one cast. It was placed here in 1912, being relocated from Ainakea, one mile east of Kapaau, where it had stood since 1883. The statue's journey to this district of Kamehameha I's birth was a complicated one. In 1878, the Hawaiian legislature commissioned Boston sculptor Thomas R. Gould to make the bronze statue for $10,000. After making preliminary studies, Gould moved to Florence, Italy, where he completed the statue, having it cast in Paris. The ship G. F. Haendel, transporting the statue to Honolulu, sank on November 15, 1880, off the Falkland Islands. The 9.5-ton case containing the statue was lost, and insurance money paid to produce a replica, which now stands in front of Aliiolani Hale (OA54) in Honolulu, the intended site for the original statue. A Captain Jervis later recovered the original statue and brought it to Honolulu, having found it ornamenting the streets of Port Stanley. A new arm was ordered to replace the damaged one, and the statue was shipped to North Kohala. The third statue stands in Hilo, erected by the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association in 1997. A fourth stands in the statuary hall in the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Kohala Courthouse", [Waimea, Hawaii], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Hawaii

Buildings of Hawaii, Don J. Hibbard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011, 279-280.

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