Lunalilo Home was established by the will of High Chief William Charles Lunalilo, who died in 1874 while he was king of the Hawaiian Islands. His estate included large landholdings on the five major islands, consisting of 33 ahupua‘a, nine ‘ili, and more than a dozen home lots. His will established a perpetual trust under the administration of three trustees to be appointed by the justices of the Hawaiian Supreme Court. King Lunalilo was the first of the large landholding ali‘i to create a charitable trust for the benefit of his people.
The purpose of the trust was to build a home to accommodate the poor, destitute, and infirmed people of Hawaiian (aboriginal) blood or extraction, with preference given to older people. The will charged the Trustees with selling all of the estate’s land to build and maintain the home.