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Kaluaaha Congregational Church

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1844. Kamehameha V Hwy., between mile markers 14 and 15

Bereft of its steeple, roof, and interior, this abandoned church stands as a reminder of initial Christian endeavor on Molokai and of the island's shifting demographics. As Molokai's “mother church,” this once imposing edifice was the religious and social center of the island for much of the nineteenth century, hosting civic meetings, social gatherings, and court proceedings, as well as worship services.

An enormous undertaking for its time and place, this 100 × 50–foot stone building was surpassed in size by only two other stone missionary churches in the Islands, Kawaiahao (OA58) and Mokuaikaua (HA1). Here, in what was the population center for Molokai, Aliʻi (member of the ruling class) Hoapili-Wahine assisted Reverend Hitchcock and his wife, Rebecca, in establishing the island's first mission station in 1832. The present structure, the third church on this site, was dedicated on April 3, 1844. It began as a large meetinghouse with doors at the two ends and a single door facing the ocean. Over time it was embellished. A shingled gable roof replaced the original pili grass roof in 1852; a steeple followed. The coral and fieldstone walls were buttressed, most likely in 1899, and then further protected and stabilized by steel rods and a coat of concrete in 1917. As a result of such measures, the building remains standing today. Unfortunately, the twentieth-century population shift to Kaunakakai has made such measures largely irrelevant. Kaluaaha's congregation dwindled and, despite several attempts to restore it, the abandoned building has deteriorated considerably. The most recent preservation efforts in the 1990s resulted in the gutting and resurfacing of the building. It awaits a nurturing hand.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Kaluaaha Congregational Church", [Kaunakakai, 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, 232-232.

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