O‘ahu Museum Ideas: Have Tea at Queen Emma’s Summer Palace
Photos: Aaron K. Yoshino
“Sometimes I feel like it’s a secret,” Caroline Bond Davis says as we walk through the grounds of Hānaiakamalama, also known as Queen Emma Summer Palace. The cool breeze blowing through Nu‘uanu perfectly illustrates why Queen Emma chose to spend her summers in this home given to her by her uncle, John Young II, in 1857.
Bond Davis, the third vice regent of the Daughters of Hawai‘i, which took over care of the home in 1916, manages the grounds and the building. Inside, treasures fill each room: a friendship bracelet containing a lock of English Queen Victoria’s hair; a fireman’s jacket belonging to Emma’s son, Prince Albert Edward; a cloak—which was supposedly owned by Kamehameha I, II and III, and Emma’s husband, Kamehameha IV, who gifted it to an English businessman—that survived a bombing in England during World War II and still has some soot on its feathers.
About 80 percent of the furniture and artifacts on display belonged to Queen Emma, including the piano on which she learned to play. She planted the three mango trees out front, representing her, Kamehameha IV and Prince Albert. “We can’t cut them. They’re sacred,” Bond Davis says. But “when you have a mango 150 feet high, it becomes a weapon!” For now, she’s focusing on planting more native plants in the garden. Community groups help with yardwork, and Bond Davis is also overseeing work on the structural foundation.
The palace is open daily, with guided tours available during the summer. It’s a popular venue for weddings, with both the Prince Albert Terrace and Emmalani Hale and Courtyard available for rent. Members and their guests can attend classes, such as hula, conversational Hawaiian, even yoga.
Join a tea party. An Easter Tea party with light refreshments, entertainment and ladies in hats is held Easter weekend. This year, a Christmas Tea party will be Dec. 15.
See the palace after dark at Christmas Nights. The annual event includes live entertainment, craft vendors and tours of the palace, held Dec. 7 and 8 this year.
Have kids? Keiki Day in mid-May includes free admission, hands-on crafts, firetrucks, keiki IDs and live entertainment. Bring insect repellent. Mosquitoes do love Nu‘uanu’s gardens.
Shop at the Day at Queen Emma Event. You’ll find local crafters, Hawaiian food, live music, hula, cultural demonstrations, keiki activities as well as tours. In 2018, it was held in September.
Founded Sometime between October 1916 to January 1917
Info 2913 Pali Highway, (808) 451-0012, queenemmasummerpalace.org
Hours Open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed on major holidays
Admission $10 general; $8 kama‘āina, military and seniors; $1 children 5–17. Admission is $5 on Keiki Day and Queen Emma’s Birthday, Jan. 5 in 2019.
Size 22,750 square feet (including the grounds)
Annual visitors 11,387 in 2017
Run by The Daughters of Hawai‘i
Fun fact The palace was originally built in Boston and shipped to Honolulu in 1848.