Birthday of Her Royal Highness Princess Ruth Keelikolani.
Her Royal Highness Princess Ruth Keelikolani celebrated, on Thursday last, her sixty-fourth birthday by a luau, or banquet in native Hawaiian fashion, given at H. R. H.’s new mansion in Emma-street, followed on the evening of Friday by a Reception and Ball. The occasion was indeed adopted for the “house-warming” the handsome and beautifully decorated house being only just ready for occupation. The event has been long talked of, and looked forward to, and has been the chief topic of conversation during the past week, almost to the exclusion of all others, causing the exciting events of the previous week to fall quite into the background.
The Mansion which was the scene of these festivities is situated on the land known as Kaakopua, which has a long frontage to the Ewa side of Emma-Street. It is a handsome structure of two main stories, on a high basement with an attic story and turret above. On the main floor on the mauka side of the house, are two drawing rooms which communicate with one another by a wide arch. The dimensions of the larger room are 48¼ ft. by 24½ ft., and those of the smaller 24 ft, by 19½ ft. On the makai side of the building are three rooms, two of which are bedrooms, the other being apparently designed as a boudoir. Between the bedrooms are two bathrooms, fitted with every convenience of the latest models. The rooms themselves are severally 12½ ft. by 21 ft., 2¼ ft. by 18¾ ft., aud 19½ ft. by 17¾ ft., and they are all 16 ft. in height. More striking even than the dimensions of these noble rooms, are their elaborate internal decorations. A description of the ceilings with their moulded centres and cornices, was published in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser of 13th Nov., 1880, in the following terms:— “One department of the work has lately been completed. This is the plastering, which, from the style of internal finish adopted, assumes an important place in the construction. The building is plastered internally throughout, and the plaster is made the medium of ornamentation of a very elaborate character. In the hall, the keystones of the arches which cross it, and the supporting brackets at the sides attract notice at once. The latter are of a strikingly handsome pattern, the details of which are borrowed from the capitals and pediments of Doric architecture. On the wall line is a moulding of the egg and dart pattern, on the drop from the ceiling a ball ornament, and between them a wide ribbon of oak-leaves, while as a border to the ceiling itself is a twining vine. These four lines of ornament make a happy combination, which is repeated throughout the lower floor. There are three elaborate centres in the hall, but those of the parlors throw the others into the shade, being 5 feet 8 inches in diameter. These are of handsome designs of scroll and arbesque work, with fruit pieces in the immediate centers, the whole ceiling being panelled in plaster. The roof of the vestibule or inner entrance porch is plastered in imitation of a groined roof. In the bed-rooms and dining-room the ceilings are an elaborate as in the parlors.” The dimensions of the vestibule are 19½ feet by 13 feet, and those of the hall which runs through the whole of this portion of the building 66 feet by 13 feet. The ceilings have all been painted in fresco by an Italian artist, whose work must be pronounced to be admirable. In his choice of colors for the various parts of the moulded work, and of ground colors and designs for the flat portions of the ceilings he has been peculiarly happy. A description of the whole of his work would prove too lengthy to be indulged in here, and we must content ourselves with the statement that it thoroughly satisfies the eye, and accords most artistically with the design of the plaster-work which it decorates. At the rear of the main building is another of one story divided from it by a wide verandah. In this are the dining-room, with the pantries behind it. and at the rear the kitchen. The dining-room, or banqueting hall as from its size and handsome decoration we ought, perhaps, to call it—is an apartment of 29½ feet by 24 feet, and 14 feet in height. What we have said about the fresco work of the other rooms may be repeated in regard to this one, with the additional commentary that this—the first effort of the artist—is also to our minds, the most successful one. The upper part of the main building contains only two rooms intended to be utilized, and only extends over the lesser drawing-room and the front bedroom of the lower story. The rooms are nearly the same size as those below them, and are handsomely, though plainly, finished in plaster work. The rooms on the attic floor and the turret are finished in wood, and rejoice in splendid view. In front of the house is a wide and handsome verandah, with a covered balcony over the central portion of it. The verandah is approached by a flight of steps suited in width and design to the character and proportions of the house to which they form the main entrance. On either side and at the rear there are continuous verandahs 10 ft. wide, which. do not, however, communicate with that in the front of the building. These terminate on either side towards the front in handsome staircases in the form of a quadrant. The verandah at the rear divides, as already stated, the main building from the dining-room, kitchen, &c. That portion of the building which contains these apartments is only of half the width of the front part of the house, and the verandahs are continued on either side of it. The dining-room is behind that part of the house which contains the bedrooms. Thus the drawing-rooms are surrounded by the verandahs, into which their shallow bay windows project an arrangement which is repeated on the makai side of the house. When thrown open, as they were on Friday night, for Her Royal Highness’ ball, the drawing-rooms, the hall, the boudoir and one of the bedrooms form one large ball-room, the communications between them being by arched doorways 8 feet wide, the doors of which slide away out of sight into the walls. The detail of finish throughout the house is very perfect. Each window is fitted internally with folding Venetian shutters. The bathrooms have already been spoken of. The pantry and store room are models of what such places should be, and must be the envy of every good housewife who is privileged to inspect them. The whole structure reflects great credit upon the architect, and upon Mr. Hardee, who had the superintendence of all the details.
The house is lighted throughout with patent air gas from one of the Springfield machines of the size known as a seventy-five burner machine, but said to be capable of supplying one hundred and twenty-five burners. There are seventy-three argand burners in the house. When these were all lighted together for the purpose of testing the efficiency of the supply and the general effect of the arrangement of the lights our reporter was present and can vouch for the brilliancy of the illumination and the remarkably steady character of the light. The gasoliers in the drawing rooms are of pure bronze and of very artistic design, having six lights in each. There are two of these in the larger room and one in the smaller, and they are sufficient to flood the rooms with light. In the dining room there are two six-light gasoliers and in each bedroom one of three lights. When all these lights are burning together as on the occasion referred to, and on Friday night, the effect is very fine.
Such is the mansion which Her Royal Highness handseled with her birthday party. Large as it is, however, it would have been impossible to find even standing room in it for half the guests invited on that occasion. To accommodate the company which, with an open-handed hospitality becoming to her rank as a Hawaiian High Chiefess, Her Royal Highness entertained, a marquee had been erected on the makai side of the house, more than one hundred and fifty feet long and sixty feet wide. This was handsomely decorated internally with the fronds of the cocoa palm, maile, ferns, etc., and at the ends and along part of the front of the tent walls of the cocoa fronds had been artistically constructed. When filled with au animated crowd of both sexes, this great enclosure presented a very striking appearance. Tables, in Hawaiian style, raised about it foot from the ground were set out in the tent, four of about one hundred and twenty feet each in length, with a cross table at the head, fifty feet long, reserved for the hostess and guests of distinction. These tables were supplied with the favorite staples of a Hawaiian meal in great profusion. The fashion of the haole had been so far followed that there was a plate for each guest, and that the fish and various minor delicacies of the feast were served on earthenware dishes. But this deference to foreign fashion went no further ; knives, forks, and spoons were not in the programme and it was amusing to watch the perplexed faces and bungling manoeuvres of some of the guests who were present at a Hawaiian luau for the first time, and seemed to be mentally resolving that it would also be the last. Beside each plate stood a ration of cooked meat tied up in ti leaves, just as it had come from the oven, and weighing at least three pounds ; evidently no one was to starve at Her Royal Highness’ table. Then there was fish in plenty, but for the most part in an uncooked state ; poi too in abundance ; and dishes of a curious looking compound of kalo and cocoanut, evidently greatly relished by Hawaiians and pronounced to be delicious by haoles who were adventurous enough to taste it. Shrimps, limu or sea-weed, and a pounded preparation of kukui, or candle-nut, &c, were there in profusion indeed when some four hundred guests had lunched from these tables they seemed still to be as profusely covered with the good things of Hawaiian life as ever, the cooked fish being the only thing into the stores of which any serious inroad had been made. This discription serves for the long tables which ran the lengthway of the marquee. At the cross table reserved for His Majesty and certain other distinguished guests, a far more elaborate meal was spread. Here the dishes and bowls of native wood, and the handsome poi bowls made from the shells of cocoanuts of unusually large size, and standing on tripods formed also of cocoanut shell prettily carved, were very much admired, and produced a fine effect. Here too foreign ideas had been allowed little further sway, inasmuch as for each guest was placed a napkin, and on each napkin lay a card bearing the name of the guest, the cards themselves being very beautifully printed in richly-colored floral designs. The table was loaded with delicacies too numerous to permit of description. The guests present at it were His Majesty the King, the Princesses Liliuokalani and Likelike, His Excellency Governor Dominis, Hon. A. S. Cleghorn, Hon. Mrs. Pauahi Bishop, Hon. C. R. Bishop, Right Rev. Bishop of Olba, His Excellency the Premier, His Excellency the Minister Finance, His Excellency the Minister of the Interior, the American Minister, the British Commissioner, the French Commissioner, His Honor Judge McCully, Mrs. P. Walker, Mrs. H. A. P. Carter, Mrs. Comley, Mrs. Wodehouse, Madame Fere, Mrs. A. F. Judd, Mrs. B. H. Austin, Mrs. J. M. Kapena, Mrs. Haalelea, Mrs. C. T. Gulick, Mrs. Beckley, Mrs. F. P. Hastings, Mrs. J. I. Dowsett, Mrs. Paty, Mrs. W. F. Allen, Mrs. Janken, Mrs. Boyd, Mrs. C. B. Wilson, Mrs. Cruzan, Hon. J. E. Bush, Hon. E. O. Hall, Hon. J. M. Kapena, Mons. A. Ratard; Colonels W. F. Allen, C. P. Iaukea, and J. H. Boyd; Majors C. T. Gulick and A. Rosa; and Messrs. F. P. Hastings, S. Parker, J. H. Paty, and J. A. ruzan.
Before the principal guests took their seats, and during the repast, a number of Hawaiian young men sang sweetly various native songs to plaintive melodies, preceding them by “Hawaii Ponoi,” which was verv well sung in concert. These sweet singers belong to a musical society called the Kawaihau Club, which was instituted in the days when the late music-loving Prince Leleiohoku was alive.
As has already been said, something like four hundred guests must have sat down together to partake of the luau; but, in addition to these, there were as many more who preferred to look on or wander about the grounds during the repast. A large number of Hawaiians also sat down to the tables after the first occupants had moved away. Altogether, little short of a thousand must have paid their respects to Her Royal Highness on her birthday, many of whom were personally unknown her, but to whom she had generously extended a hospitality worthy of the sister of Kings.
Immediately after the luau, preparations were made within the marquee for a hula ku’j, and the dance was commenced ; but, it being found that there was not room there for the crowd that desired to see the hula, an adjournment was made to the open ground overlooked by the verandahs of the house, from which a good view of the interesting spectacle could be obtained by the guests. This species of entertainment, and the singing of meles in honor of the High Chiefess and her family were kept up throughout the evening, and till more than an hour past midnight; large crow ds being present in the grounds all the time.
In the evening Her Royal Highness entertained a select party of about twenty of her Hawaiian lady friends to supper, which was served at the table in the large marquee previously spoken of as reserved for distinguished guests. No gentlemen were present.
Last night. Her Royal Highness held a reception, followed by a ball at which it seemed to those present that the whole foreign population of Honolulu were present, besides a very large number of ladies and gentlemen of Hawaiian birth. His Majesty the King was one of the guests, and arrived at the reception shortly before 9 o’clock. Dancing commenced soon after His Majesty having his hostess as his partner in the first quadrille, with Governor Dominis and H. R. H. Princess Likelike as vis-a-vis. Other members of the Royal family, with the British, American, and French Ministers and Mr. Consul Schaefer and their ladies, and a few other ladies and gentlemen, made up the set. Subsequently the programme which included sixteen dances was faithfully gone through by the lovers of dancing, and the festivities were kept up till between 2 and 3 o’clock. We must defer any longer notice of this splendid entertainment till our next issue.
(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 2/11/1882, p. 2)