Friday, May 13, 2016

The Original King Kamehameha Statue

The Original Statue of King Kamehameha

The story of the statue is interesting.  There are four copies of the statue: one in downtown Honolulu; another in Washington, D.C.; a 14-foot, five-ton statue in Hilo and the original statue in front of the old court house in Kapa'au in north Kohala. 

The sculptor Thomas Ridgeway Gould had a dry goods store in Boston Massachusetts.  After the Civil War, his business started to decline, and he lost his fortune.  In 1968 he moved to Florence, Italy to continue studying sculpting.  His marble statue "The West Wind" was exhibited at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

The Hawaiian Legislature appropriated $10,000 for a statue of King K.  (That is about $260,000 in today's money.)  The sculpture that Thomas Ridgeway created was shipped to Paris, France to cast in Bronze.   Then the ship carrying that first bronze statue, the GF Haendel, sank off the coast of the Falkland Islands.  The statue was insured, so a second casting was ordered.  

The people on the Falkland Island recovered the first statue.  The captain of the wrecked ship found it in Port Stanley and purchased it for $500, then sold it back to Hawaii for $875, and shipped it to the Hawaiian Islands, where it was erected in Kapa'au. The second statue of Kamehameha now stands in downtown Honolulu.

The Hilo statue was originally destined for a resort in Princeville on Kauai.  The people of Kauai did not want the statue there, because the island of Kauai had never been "conquered" by Kamehameha.  The resort donated it to Hilo, on the island of Hawaii.