William Francis Quinn

In Office 1957 to 1962

About

Governor Quinn

William Francis Quinn was the first elected Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi and the last appointed Territorial Governor. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Quinn as Territorial Governor in 1957. Quinn served as Territorial Governor until 1959 and then as State Governor from 1959 to 1962. His tenure was marked by events such as the sugar strike of 1958, Statehood in 1959, and tsunami of 1960.

First Lady

Nancy Ellen Witbeck became Mrs. Nancy Quinn in July 1942. She was the last First Lady of the territory of Hawaiʻi from 1957 to 1959 and the first, First Lady of the state from 1959 to 1962. As a mother of seven children and a First Lady, Mrs. Quinn devoted her time to raising her family and supporting her husband. She provided a strong supporting role to the Governor and contributed significantly to the resounding success of the numerous official events scheduled during those first years of statehood.

On Being First Lady…

I use to get nervous when these important foreign dignitaries would come to Washington Place. And then I realized they were almost more terrified about coming to America. Just smile and be yourself. Be natural and do the best you can. Be courteous, be nice.

Washington Place

The door was always open in Washington Place.

On moving to Washington Place, Billy had just graduated from 8th grade and he was going to Punahou. Bill [Governor] said, “Well, I’m going to feel kind of funny going down to Merchant Street tomorrow morning as the Governor of the Territory.” And Billy answered, “Think how I’m going to feel as a freshman at Punahou!”

Washington Place Memory

Each of the kids got a baby bunny at Easter. A pen was built in the backyard. But the kids eventually lost interest. This was about 1961 or so. When we left, Dan the driver said, “Mrs. Quinn what are you going to do about the rabbits.” Well they had dug holes in the ground and tunneled. And when they flushed them out with a hose, there were about 200 rabbits!

Gallery

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

William Francis Quinn

All photos were taken at Washington Place and all furniture in the photos is still here. Family was a priority and Governor Quinn and First Lady strived to keep the balance between private and public.

Photographer unknown, Washington Place Collection

Family Photo

From Left to Right: Cecily, Mary, Governor William F. Quinn, Billy, Steven, Timothy, Christopher, Mrs. Nancy W. Quinn, and Gregory (on Mrs. Quinn’s lap), 1960.1. From Left to Right: Cecily, Mary, Governor William F. Quinn, Billy, Steven, Timothy, Christopher, Mrs. Nancy W. Quinn, and Gregory (on Mrs. Quinn’s lap), 1960. All photos were taken at Washington Place and all furniture in the photos is still here. Family was a priority and Governor Quinn and First Lady strived to keep the balance between private and public.

Photo by Paul E. Zellers, Washington Place Collection.

Piano Practice

Mrs. Nancy W. Quinn with Cecily and Gregory, 1962.

Photo by Stan Rivera, Camera Hawai‘i, Washington Place Collection.

Quinn Family in Family Dinning Room

They agreed that Sunday would be family day. Nancy would give the cook the day off and she would “fix dinners on Sunday evenings.” Often times they would spend their family days at Portlock, where they lived prior to Washington Place. They moved to Washington Place on September 2, 1957.  2 of their 7 children were born at Washington Place—Cecily and Gregory.  The Quinns had an “Open House” for the Public on New Year’s Day during the “territorial days.” Photo by Mori Yamada, Camera Hawaii, Washington Place Collection.

Mrs. Nancy W. Quinn and family pet

In an interview with First Lady, Mrs. Nancy Quinn, she states that “The Queen’s portrait in the dining room was a constant reminder of her presence in spirit. We were visited by many distinguished guests all of whom were impressed by the home, its grounds and its history. It was a pleasure and a privilege to serve the people of Hawaiʻi and to make so many new friends. It was also a lot of work and dedication to the office. In retrospect we are grateful for the happy memories we have of our years in Washington Place.” Photo by Stan Rivera, Camera Hawaii, Washington Place Collection.

Welcoming Dignitaries

Reception in honor of Crown Prince and Princess of Japan.

Photographer unknown, Washington Place Collection.

Mrs. William F. Quinn, Mrs. Granville D. Abbott III, and Mrs. John Goss

Mrs. William F. Quinn (left) wife of the Governor, Mrs. Granville D. Abbott III, and Mrs. John Goss pose before Queen Liliʻuokalani’s piano at Washington Place where they will be among hostesses tomorrow night at a Monarchy theme reception honoring Conductor Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic orchestra following the concert at the Shell.  The gowns were especially designed for the occasion by Pauline Lake.  Governor and Mrs. Quinn are giving the reception with Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm MacNaughton, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Arthur Johnson and the Honolulu Symphony Society.—Star-Bulletin Photo by Warren Roll. (Side note: the women all have the same fabric, just different styles of dresses.) Photo by Warren Roll, Washington Place Collection.

A Call from President Eisenhower

Governor Quinn with family and press at Governor’s office waiting for statehood call from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Quinn as Territorial Governor in 1957. Governor Quinn was the first state elected Governor after Hawaiʻi became the fiftieth state. The Formal inauguration was scheduled for Saturday, August 29, 1959 and was at Washington Place. Photographer unknown, Washington Place Collection.  

The Eisenhowers and Quinns

Governor Quinn with Mrs. Barbara Eisenhower and President Dwight D. Eisenhower (left) and Quinn Family (right).

Photographer unknown, Washington Place Collection.

A Hawaiian Welcome

Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko of Japan with Governor Quinn and First Lady, September 22, 1960. Photographer unknown, Washington Place Collection.

Christmas Time

Cecily, Mary, and Christopher in front of the Christmas tree, December 1959. Photographer unknown, Washington Place Collection.

Newspaper Article

On the morning of September 2, 1957, William Francis Quinn was sworn in as Hawai‛i’s 12th Territorial Governor on the grounds of ‛Iolani Palace.  The article discusses the perfect weather for an oath and Quinn’s inaugural speech.  It further explores Governor Quinn’s life prior to becoming Governor, including how he met First Lady Nancy Quinn, as well as their family, and new life at Washington Place.

Citation: “Governor Quinn Takes Oath of Office,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 2 Sept. 1957, vol 46: no 210: Cover.

View More

Hawaii State Governors

John A. Burns

In Office 1962 to 1974

George Ariyoshi

In Office 1974 to 1986

John D. Waiheʻe III

In Office 1986 to 1994

Ben Cayetano

In Office 1994 to 2002

Linda Lingle

In Office 2002 to 2010

Neil Abercrombie

In Office 2010 to 2014

 

Washington Place

320 South Beretania St

Honolulu, HI 96813