In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Queen Lili'uokalani's Beloved Kawaiaha'o Seminary
  • Sandra Bonura (bio)

Dear to the heart of the royal family, particularly Queen Lili-'uokalani, was a nineteenth century girls' boarding school, Kawaiaha'o Seminary. It stood for a half century where the stately red-bricked Mission Memorial Buildings in downtown Honolulu are today. The Hawaiian Evangelical Association created today's landmark in 1915 to commemorate the arrival of the American Protestant missionaries in 1820. However, there is no memorial plaque among the tranquil shaded green lawns that point to the historical significance of the school that existed there first. United by the shared conviction that the education of Hawaiian girls was vital, an extraordinary partnership developed between the Hawaiian monarchy and the missionary community relative to Kawaiaha'o Seminary. The relationship was so significant that when the annual examinations of the school on June 2, 1888 took place, the Hawaiian Legislative Assembly adjourned [End Page 31] specifically so that nobles and representatives could attend the public exhibition of 93 pupils. Observing were The Royal Highnesses Princess Likelike, an alumna, her daughter Princess Ka'iulani, and the Minister of the Crown.1

Click for larger view
View full resolution
Figure 1.

By the end of 1888, the Clark house, and the bindery and printing office buildings, had been leveled to make way for the "modernized" Kawaiaha'o Seminary, circa 1890.

Courtesy Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library.

The germ of Kawaiaha'o Seminary dates back to a small family school in a house vacated by Reverend Ephraim Wesson Clark in 1863. Reverend Clark had pastored, baptized, and married many royal family members during his 15 years service to Kawaiaha'o Church.2 After experiencing much personal sadness in the house, which sat directly across the road from his church, he went back to America, leaving an empty house.

The vacancy was timely for missionary doctor Luther Gulick and his wife Louisa, who had arrived in Honolulu and needed a home. They had been forced to leave the Micronesia mission field due to Louisa's frail health. The Gulicks must have been very grateful to enjoy the stability of their own home after 13 years of grueling missionary work moving around the many islands in the western Pacific Ocean. [End Page 32] Luther's brother Orramel was married to Reverend Clark's daughter Anne, so it was, in some way, keeping the house in the family.

Early in 1864, Louisa Gulick took advantage of her newfound sta bility to train and educate her children. She soon learned that a Hawaiian missionary couple being sent to the Marquesas Islands desired that their daughters remain in the safe confines of Honolulu.3 Louisa, knowing the harsh conditions firsthand, was more than happy to support her missionary sister by providing a loving and safe haven for her daughters. She viewed the opportunity to teach and house girls-in-need as "service to the people among whom they had come so far to live."4 Thus, her two little boarders, along with her own five children, became a school of sorts.

Before long, other girls in unfortunate circumstances were accepted in the Gulick home. The community was impressed by the patience, love, and attention Louisa showered on the children: "month to month the numbers increased, new girls were received and aid in teaching was rendered by kind neighbors."5 Louisa's diary documents the increasing popularity of her home school, with fluctuating numbers always above capacity for one without any formal teacher training.

By 1867, Louisa's health and energy began to wane once again, and she couldn't keep up with the influx of girls and the requisite duties. The Gulick's need to give up the house presented an opportunity for the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society to continue with charitable causes. High on their list was attending to the many girls throughout the islands in desperate need of housing. Converting the Clark premises, which included the abandoned mission printing and bindery buildings, into a proper boarding school would solve a great problem.

It was soon apparent that an educated woman was needed to take the school to the next level. "After ten months...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 31-68
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.