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Mokuaikaua Church

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1837; 1937 alterations, C. W. Dickey. 75-5713 Alii Dr.

The oldest church building in Hawaii, the lava-rock Mokuaikaua was originally constructed without the use of nails. Pegs still secure the ohia wood roof beams, and the frame of the koa-paneled gallery. Built on the site of a former heiau, the large, dressed, lava-rock quoins are thought to have come from that Hawaiian temple. A massive structure in its time, the 48 × 120–foot, two-story building serves as a major landmark in Kailua-Kona. Improvements overseen by Dickey in 1937 included the construction of the present steeple and the revitalization of the magnificent koa galleries. The memorial stone archway leading into the churchyard was erected in 1910 to commemorate the arrival of the first missionaries. The governor of the island of Hawaii, John Adams Kuakini, the brother of Kaahumanu, funded the construction of this building. Within months of its dedication, the governor's equally grand stone residence, Hulihee Palace (HA2), was completed across the road, providing a striking face-off of church and state.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Mokuaikaua Church", [Kailua-Kona, Hawaii], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Hawaii

Buildings of Hawaii, Don J. Hibbard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011, 251-251.

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