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Kanaina Building (Archives Building)

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Archives Building
1906, Oliver G. Traphagan. Iolani Palace grounds
  • (Photograph by Augie Salbosa)

Following the annexation of Hawaii, the federal government commenced efforts to transfer all Hawaiian government records to Washington, D.C. The Territory of Hawaii, however, successfully objected to this idea, and constructed this single-story, fireproof, Renaissance Revival building to house the records, making it the first public building in the United States to serve exclusively as an archive. A small cement-finished brick building, its classical elements lend this repository of history and culture a quiet dignity.

In 1930, fifteen feet were added to both sides of the building and a thirty-seven-foot wing was placed on the rear. In 1953, the Territorial Archives relocated to the modern Mark Potter–designed structure located behind the original building, which was then utilized as government offices. It was restored in 1987 under the direction of Spencer-Mason Architects, who took special care with its entrance hall and its stained glass skylight. Today the building houses the administrative offices of the Friends of Iolani Palace.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Kanaina Building (Archives Building)", [Honolulu, 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, 112-113.

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