As with other churches built by Reverend Paris, this one was made of rubble lava stone and coral burnt-lime mortar, and features dressed quoins and a front-facing gable roof. A centered steeple surmounts the front gable, but the right-of-center entrance breaks with the symmetry commonly found in missionary churches. The church has undergone a number of rehabilitations over the years, necessitated by repeated earthquake damage, and was abandoned following the 1953 quake. A renovation in 1986 gave new life to the building. The stenciled banding that encircles the interior walls, produced in 1925 by John Acia, was restored at that time.
Chiefess Kapiolani sponsored the formation of this church in 1824. The name “Kahikolu” means “the three in one,” which in Christian terms refers to the Trinity; however, it also has a kauna (hidden meaning), as this was the third church building for this congregation. Reverend Paris built this church on the site of its much larger predecessor, using the width of the former building for the length of the present.
Henry Opukahaia, whose fervor inspired the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to expand its activities to Hawaii, was interred on the church grounds in 1993. He had left Hawaii in 1809 and converted to Christianity while living in New England. Although he desired to return to the Islands as a missionary, in 1818 he died of typhus in Connecticut before he could fulfill his goal.