Mokuaikaua Church is an endangered historic treasure of Hawaii’s heritage. With King Kamehameha II’s permission, the church’s construction began in 1835. It is the first founded and oldest christian church in the state of Hawaii. This landmark of the Kona coast welcomes thousands of visitors annually.
Time and the elements have harmed the iconic spire–with dry rot and termite damage weakening this, the tallest structure in West Hawaii. In 2006 an earthquake of 6.7 magnitude produced large cracks in the church’s lava rock walls.
Now the National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Mokuaikaua Church as the 11th most endangered historic site in the US.
Completed in 1837, Mokuaikaua represents the new western architecture of early 19-century Hawaii. This stone and mortar building was likely built of stones taken from a nearby heiau (Hawaiian temple) with lime made of burned coral. The church’s construction beams are Hawaiian ohia wood joined with ohia pins. Mokuaikaua Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Without immediate attention, Mokuaikaua Church may be at the critical point of being beyond repair. The church has multiple cracks in the stone walls caused by time and an earthquake, dysfunctional and faulty electrical wiring, termite damage, and dry rot damage to beams in the steeple and wooden window frames.
To prevent further damage, planned renovation of the original Mokuaikaua Church building includes: shoring up the original exterior stone walls, connect the existing roof structure and protect against stone falling inward in a major seismic event; preserving, repairing, protecting, and strengthening the existing roof structure and steeple; repairing three major cracks caused by past earthquakes and replacing dry-rot beams; and restoring existing interior beams, walls, and ceilings.
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