The Daughters of Hawai‘i was founded in 1903 by seven women who were daughters of American Protestant missionaries. They were born in Hawai‘i, were citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom before annexation, and foresaw the inevitable loss of much of the Hawaiian culture. They founded the organization “to perpetuate the memory and spirit of old Hawai‘i and of historic facts, and to preserve the nomenclature and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian language.”
Hānaiakamalama, now known as the Queen Emma Summer Palace was the “mountain” home of Queen Emma Na‘ea, wife of Kamehameha IV. She had inherited it from her uncle, John Young II, son of the famous advisor to Kamehameha I, John Young I. Queen Emma used the home as a retreat where she could escape from the oppressive heat of Honolulu into the coolness of Nu‘uanu.
The Queen Emma Summer Palace was acquired by the Daughters of Hawai‘i in 1915, narrowly avoiding the demolition of the house and construction of a baseball field on the grounds. The Territorial Government granted the Daughters the use of the home and 22,750 square feet of the grounds as long as the home was used and maintained as a museum.
Having acquired and restored Hānaiakamalama, the Daughters set about to save Hulihe‘e Palace in 1924. The Palace was in ruins. The grounds were so overgrown that the house could not be seen from the road. In 1925, the Territorial Legislature purchased Hulihe‘e and set it aside for the Daughters to use and maintain as a museum. When the Daughters finally took over Hulihe‘e in 1927, there was little interest in historic preservation in the islands. At this time, the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company began to formulate plans for an oceanfront hotel in Kailua-Kona. They decided that the Hulihe‘e grounds was the most desirable location in Kailua-Kona and at once began to pressure the Daughters to relinquish Hulihe‘e. The ladies held firm and because of their spirit, the State of Hawai‘i has an important educational museum and Kailua-Kona still has some open waterfront. Hulihe‘e Palace was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Queen Emma Summer Palace is also on this National Register.
The Daughters of Hawai‘i also owns the site of Kamehameha III’s birth at Keauhou Bay, Kona.