‘Iolani Barracks, or Halekoa (house of warriors) in Hawaiian, was built in 1870, designed by the architect, Theodore Heuok, under the direction of King David Kalakaua. Located directly adjacent to ‘Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu, it was the headquarters of the personal royal guards to the reigning monarch. The structure clearly harkens to the architecture of medieval castles of Europe with its crenelated parapets and towers. It was constructed with coral block walls from the same limestone source used to build Kawaiaha‘o Church and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and has a slate roof.
‘Iolani Barracks was originally built a block behind (mauka or north of) ‘Iolani Palace. In 1965 the structure was moved, stone by stone, to its current location to make room for the (then to be built) Hawaii State Capitol. After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 (and the subsequent disbanding of the Royal Guard), the barracks was used on several occasions as the headquarters of the National Guard of Hawai‘i. The building was used as temporary shelter for victims of the 1899 Chinatown fire. It also housed government offices and at one point served as a warehouse. Today, the building serves as a visitors center for ‘Iolani Palace and houses a gift shop, ticket office, and video theater.