Kona’s Mokuaikaua Church named to list of endangered historic places
An iconic Alii Drive spot has made the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s most endangered list this year.
Mokuaikaua Church, built in 1837, is in need of earthquake damage repair and has dysfunctional and faulty electrical wiring, termite damage, and dry-rot damage to beams in the steeple and wooden window frames, trust officials said in a news release Monday.
“As the first Christian church in Hawaii, Mokuaikaua has withstood the ravages of island life nearly 200 years,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a statement. “Today, however, it needs critical improvements to carry its history forward into a new century.”
Mokuaikaua is one of the oldest properties on this year’s list, Senior Field Officer Sheri Freemuth added.
“It represents the kind of endangered properties that can occur anywhere due to natural disaster,” she said, noting church officials also made mention of the 2011 tsunami in their application to be named to the list.
Designation as an endangered site doesn’t come with funding, Freemuth said, but it does help bring awareness to a particular location’s plight.
“We’re hoping, with this additional visibility, individuals will see how valuable a place it is,” she added.
This year’s list includes sites from across the country.
“We do try and highlight the diversity of our national heritage,” Freemuth said.
Mokuaikaua Church is Hawaii’s first Christian Church. Completed in 1837 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, Mokuaikaua Church represents the new, Western-influenced architecture of early 19th century Hawaii, trust officials said. This stone and mortar building is believed to be built out of stones taken from a nearby heiau with mortar made of burned coral. Construction beams are made from Hawaiian ohia wood joined with ohia pins.
The church traces its roots to the 1820s, when it was founded by Congregational Missionaries. It sustained about $500,000 in earthquake damage in 2006, in the form of cracks and shifting stones.
“Mokuaikaua Church now needs immediate attention if it is to be saved,” the trust’s website said.
A call to the church’s office was not answered Monday afternoon.