You are here

St. Peter's Episcopal Church

-A A +A
1914, William O. Phillips. 1317 Queen Emma St.
  • (Photograph by Augie Salbosa)

Although in many respects a typical turn-of-the-twentieth-century exercise in Academic Gothic Revival, St. Peter's also embodies the Chinese character of its original congregation. The reinforced-concrete building, with its balanced asymmetric massing, features Gothic-arched openings, simple buttresses, crenellated battlements, and a corner bell tower. However, the right-of-center entrance porch, with steps leading to a wall, requires a turn to enter the church's centered doorway. Such a deviation from standard Western practice reflects the feng shui use of spirit screens to divert evil spirits from directly entering buildings. The basilican interior with its hammer beam roof further elaborates the Gothic program, but Chinese nuances may again be seen. The lectern, in the form of the eagle of St. John, has the claws of a dragon and lion's hair supplants its feathers. The koa reredos includes a stylized Chinese roof in its decoration. Both of these pieces were carved in Canton. The rear stained glass window with its red cross dates from 1914; the other windows were installed in the 1970s and are primarily the work of Brone Jemeileks. The altar is from the original nineteenth-century church.

St. Peter's was established in 1886, by members of St. Paul's Anglican Church at Makapala on the island of Hawaii who had relocated to Honolulu. By 1900, half the Episcopalians in Hawaii attended St. Peter's, and from it sprang several other Chinese Episcopal congregations, including St. Elizabeth's in Palama (OA8) and St. Mary's (1917; 2062 S. King Street) in Moiliili.

William O. Phillips remained in Hawaii for but a year or two and advertised “Designs of all kinds of residential, ecclesiastical and landscape works submitted. Clients' own ideas worked up in best possible way.” St. Peter's is his best-known work in Hawaii.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "St. Peter's Episcopal Church", [Honolulu, 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, 106-107.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.