A Look Back: Queen Liliuokalani School Is Turning 100

Nanea Kalani/Civil Beat

Splendid. Distinguished. Impressive.

The year was 1912 and Hawaii's newspapers were touting a new schoolhouse in Kaimuki as "the best constructed and most completely equipped public school building in the Territory."

The original building's cornerstone was laid by Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last reigning monarch, on April 12, 1912 — a century ago this week. She was 73 at the time, and the school — at the corner of Waialae and Koko Head avenues — was named in her honor.

Although her kingdom had been overthrown nearly 20 years earlier, one newspaper report described Liliuokalani's presence as "adding an atmosphere of royalty and courtliness" to the cornerstone-laying event. Still, her presence stirred mixed emotions for others.

"Even chance visitors at Kaimuki yesterday afternoon were deeply and some of them sadly impressed with the ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the new $60,000 Kaimuki school, for Queen Liliuokalani it was who handled the silver trowel, and the appearance of the former Queen of Hawaii held something almost tragic for those who saw her," the April 13, 1912 edition of the Evening Bulletin reported. "Queen Liliuokalani's participation was without doubt the feature of the cornerstone-laying."

Another newspaper account quotes Charles A. Cottrill, identified as collector of internal revenue, as saying: "I admire the splendid sentiment which prompted the naming of this building for Her Majesty, Ex-Queen Liliuokalani, who is so generally beloved and respected by all classes."

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