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Wananalua Church

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1848, 1897. Hana Hwy. and Hauoli Rd., Hana
  • (Photograph by Joel Bradshaw)
  • (Photograph by Joel Bradshaw)

Wananalua Church, despite the passage of more than one hundred and fifty years, remains the most imposing building in Hana. Sitting on a large, tree-enshrouded lawn, enclosed by a stone wall, its crenellated bell tower is capped by a steeple, and its plastered one-hundred-foot-long side walls are pierced by round-arched windows. Inside, king trusses span the forty-foot width of the nave. Tongue-and-groove boards box the truss work along the side aisles, forming a dropped ceiling which accentuates the view to the altar and balustraded choir.

Built by the native Hawaiian population, Wananalua's stones came from a former heiau, its timbers were harvested from the slopes of Haleakala, and lime for the mortar was gathered from coral in the bay. Its fourteen-foot-high walls are two-and-a-half-feet thick at the base and taper to a foot at their apex. This missionary church originally had a thatched hipped roof, which was later shingled. Thanks to the generosity of Prince Kuhio, the building was extensively remodeled in 1897. That effort included the replacement of the floor and the construction of the present gable roof and frame bell tower. The building was renovated in 1928 under the direction of William D'Esmond, and again in 1989 when the interior and exterior walls were replastered, and the roof and all its structural members were replaced. The name “Wananalua” is the ancient place name of this area and means “double prophecy.”

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Wananalua Church", [HAIKU, 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, 215-215.

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