Benjamin Jerome “Ben” Cayetano

In Office 1994 to 2002

Governor Cayetano

Benjamin Jerome or “Ben” Cayetano served as Governor from 1994 to 2002. He was the Nation’s first Filipino-American Governor. Throughout his tenure in office, Cayetano had to contend with economic uncertainty and serious fiscal problems. He developed an economic recovery plan, constructed a new state convention center, a new state art museum and began construction of a new medical school-research center for the University of Hawaiʻi. Sixteen new schools were also built under the Cayetano administration.

First Lady

Vicky Tiu Liu met Ben Cayetano while he was in office as Governor. They celebrated their marriage at Washington Place on May 5, 1997, while also celebrating the joining of their families—two children from her former marriage, and three from his. Mrs. Cayetano was First Lady from 1997 to 2002. As a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur (President and CEO of United Laundry Services), she managed to raise $1.2 million from private donations to build the Governor’s house behind Washington Place, hire the first director, historian, and curator of Washington Place (Jim Bartels), and begin the opening of the second floor galleries.

On Being First Lady…

To appreciate the kind of influence this role can have in terms of helping people. And with it comes a great sense of responsibility of what I can do for others.

Washington Place

The governors who have lived here and the future governors to come—we are just caretakers. Living here, I have developed a sense of reverence and responsibility to future generations. I am always aware that this is the Queen’s home, and when you walk through it people should be honored to be in her presence.


View curated photos from each governor and their families during their residences at Washington Place. Hit the right and left arrows to view more.

Benjamin Jerome Cayetano

In office 1994 to 2002 Photographer unknown, Washington Place Collection.

Family Photo

From left to right: Samantha, Brandon, Janeen, Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano, Mrs. Vicky Cayetano, William, and Marissa, May 5, 1997. Photo by George Kodama, Washington Place Collection. 

Governor Cayetano, Paul Anka, and First Lady

Autographed photo of Paul Anka with Governor Cayetano and First Lady, December 31, 1998. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Vicky Cayetano.

A Tiffany Tea for Washington Place Foundation

July 1999. The Tiffany Tea was a fundraising event for the nearly created Washington Place Foundation. The Foundation began in 1999 with the help of Mrs. Cayetano. The reception was a collaboration with Tiffany & Co. and included displays of butterfly jewelry from the Tiffany collection similar to the butterfly hairclip Queen Liliʻuokalani wore in the portrait in the State Dining Room. Tiffany also designed an exclusive Limited Edition of 200 Washington Place porcelain keepsake boxes for Governor and Mrs. Benjamin J. Cayetano. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Vicky Cayetano.

Governor Cayetano, Jim Nabors, and First Lady

Governor Cayetano and First Lady with Jim Nabors, circa 1997. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Vicky Cayetano.

Wedding Day

Governor Cayetano and Mrs. Cayetano on their wedding day, May 5, 1997. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Vicky Cayetano.

Greetings with Vice President Al Gore

Governor Cayetano and First Lady with Vice President Al Gore, November 18, 1998. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Vicky Cayetano.

In Celebration of the Sesquicentennial of Washington Place 1846-1996

From left to right: (Back Row): George Kuo, Ben Churchill, Keola Beamer, Howard Johnston; (Middle Row): Leonard Kwan, George Winston, Governor Ben Cayetano, Ozzie Kotani, Bla Pahinui; (Front Row Seated): Barney Isaacs, Ray Kane, 1997. Special reception in honor of Hawaiian slack-key guitar artists, many enjoyed the “chicken-skin” experience hearing contemporary jazz pianist George Winston play his own rendition of Aloha ‘Oe on the Queen’s koa wood piano. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Hawai‘i State Archives.

Looney Tunes

Governor Cayetano and Looney Tunes Characters: Bugs Bunny and Tweety, December 6, 1997. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Vicky Cayetano.

Tree Lighting Ceremony at Washington Place

From left to right: Mrs. Cayetano with Washington Place Docents: Rose Teruya, Thelma Espinda, and Kamaka Miyamoto, December 1998. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Vicky Cayetano.

Mrs. Cayetano read the class "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss

Mrs. Cayetano (center) with Ms. Cassandra Freedman’s fourth grade class for ‘Read Across America’, March 4, 1998. Photographer unknown, Courtesy of Vicky Cayetano.

Newspaper Article

Vicky Cayetano discusses life at Washington Place and the preservation need to build a separate Governor’s residence.  The article explores how the second floor appeared under the Cayetano Family and the plans for a new residence.  It further introduces Jim Bartels, first Curator and Director of Washington Place, and how their collaboration started.

Citation: Choo, David. “This Old Place.” Hawaii Home + Remodeling. Jan 2002, vol 1: no 1: 6-12.

View More

Hawaii State Governors

William F. Quinn

In Office 1957 to 1962

John A. Burns

In Office 1962 to 1974

George Ariyoshi

In Office 1974 to 1986

John D. Waiheʻe III

In Office 1986 to 1994

Linda Lingle

In Office 2002 to 2010

Neil Abercrombie

In Office 2010 to 2014

Washington Place

320 S Beretania St Honolulu, HI 96813