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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 8:23 a.m., Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Washington Place named national historic landmark

Advertiser Staff


Washington Place in Honolulu is among one dozen new national historic landmarks recognized today for their importance in interpreting the heritage and history of the United States.

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U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today announced the designation of Washington Place in Honolulu as a national historic landmark.

The former home of Queen Lili'oukalani — the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian kingdom — is among one dozen new national historic landmarks recognized for their importance in interpreting the heritage and history of the United States.

The others established today are in Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, South Carolina, Missouri and Illinois.

"These new National Historic Landmarks reflect some of the most important historical and cultural developments in American history," Kempthorne said in a news release issued today. "Each of them tells a story about us as a nation and a people. Together they exemplify our history, heritage, literature and architecture. They are designated as National Historic Landmarks so that we may all enjoy and learn from them."

Washington Place is nationally significant for its close association with the life of Queen Lili'oukalani. It was her home from the time of her marriage in 1862 to John Owen Dominis, son of the original builder, to her death in 1917. Her constitutional monarchy was overthrown in an 1893 coup d'etat, and, in 1898, Hawai'i was annexed to the United States. Two years later, it formally became a territory.

Built in 1844-1847, Washington Place also is significant for its service as the executive mansion for the territorial governors from 1918 to 1959, and, after Hawai'i became the 50th state, the state governor's mansion, from 1959 to 2002. Washington Place is significant for its association with the historical theme of America's 19th-century expansionist history because it occupies a pivotal role in the 19th-century history of the extension of U.S. territory into the Pacific and the rise of the nation as a Pacific power.

Among the new landmarks in other states are buildings that mark the evolving architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright; a "quintessential" country estate of the Gilded Age; the home of Roswell Field, the legal counsel for Dred Scott in one of the most significant Supreme Court cases in U.S. history; a residence reflecting Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables; and an American Garden City model of an ideal planned community, according to a news release issued by the Interior Department.

The National Historic Landmark designation is the highest such recognition accorded by the nation to historic properties determined to be of exceptional value in representing or illustrating an important theme, event, or person in the history of the nation.

These landmarks can be actual sites where significant historical events occurred, places where prominent Americans lived or worked as well as sites that represent the ideas that shaped the nation. Designation and national recognition encourages owners to protect and preserve their properties.

The properties are recommended by the National Park System Advisory Board and designated by the Secretary of the Interior.

Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction.

Additional information on the National Historic Landmark program can be found on the NPS Web site at http://www.cr.nps.gov/nhl/.