For our September luncheon, our OWL ladies were honored to hear from Alice Guild. Alice spoke about her work in restoring ‘Iolani Palace, leaving a legacy in the history of Hawaii represented by this unique palace.
In 1882 King Kalakaua commissioned the ‘Iolani Palace to be built in a European style. It was completed in 1882 and served the monarchy until the overthrow in 1883. The Palace stood through a provisional government, the Republic of Hawaii, the Territory of Hawaii and finally the State of Hawaii. By 1969, however, there was a rumor that the Palace would be torn down. Alice was chair of the Junior League of Honolulu’s Project Research Committee and was looking for a project that the members could get behind. Beadie Dawson suggested, “Why don’t we save the Palace?” That was the seed that started it all.
The Junior League of Honolulu brought Charles R. Peterson on board to work on historic restoration of the Palace and create a plan of action. The recommendation was for there to be a commission to be appointed under the auspices of the State of Hawaii which the governor would oversee. This would be a commission of laypeople and would include: a researcher, a historical register to be published and sent to museums and collectors on a regular basis, and a watchdog organization to be formed.
Alice went back to the Junior League and asked for a 3 year commitment to publish the historical register. The Junior League served as facilitators in the process and a watchdog organization was formed called “The Friends of ‘Iolani Palace.” Rhoda Hackler, a researcher, came forward and led the 99 women through this 3 year commitment.
At the end of 3 years, these committed women completed the project with remarkable results. An Acquisition Committee chaired by Jean Steven spent tireless hours locating and purchasing original furniture from the Palace. Today most of the furniture in Iolani Palace is original. The Junior League continued to help and to this day many members are involved. Restoration of the Palace took 10 years to restore for $7.5 million and restoration projects continue to this day.
Alice Guild worked with the Junior League of Honolulu and the late Princess Lilioukalani Morris to found the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace. She later served as Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Friends. Today this National Historic Landmark serves as a museum which people flock to from all over the world.