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Kona’s Mokuaikaua Church named to list of endangered historic places

Updated: 
June 24, 2014 - 12:05am

The 2014 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):

Battle Mountain Sanitarium –Hot Springs, South Dakota. Battle Mountain Sanitarium has provided medical care to veterans in the region for more than a century, and is one of the few properties owned by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be designated a National Historic Landmark. Today, the VA is moving forward with a proposal to abandon the facility.

Bay Harbor’s East Island – Miami-Dade County, Florida. Bay Harbor’s East Island’s collection of Miami Modern buildings are threatened with demolition by development proposals.

Chattanooga State Office Building – Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Chattanooga State Office Building, a midcentury landmark in the heart of downtown, is threatened with demolition by its new owner.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spring House – Tallahassee, Florida. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed in 1954, Spring House is the only built private residence designed by Wright in the state of Florida, and its novel "hemicycle" form of is one very few surviving homes that Wright designed in this style. Weather and the ravages of time have deteriorated the building.

Historic Wintersburg – Huntington Beach, California. Historic Wintersburg is a Japanese American pioneer property with several existing structures that tell the story of Japanese American immigrants in Southern California, and is now threatened by demolition.

Mokuaikaua Church – Kailua Village, Kona. Mokuaikaua Church, completed in 1837, is Hawaii’s first Christian Church and is at risk from both earthquake damage and natural wear and tear.

Music Hall – Cincinnati, Ohio. A National Historic Landmark, Music Hall has played a significant role in the cultural fabric of Cincinnati since it was built in 1878. Today, it is deteriorating and in need of extensive repairs.

The Palisades – Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Several generations have cherished the scenic Palisades cliffs along the Hudson River. Despite its designation as a National Historic Landmark, the LG Corporation plans to build an office tower along the cliffs in New Jersey, forever altering the landscape.

Palladium Building – St. Louis, Missouri. The Palladium Building housed a nightclub in the 1940s that—although restricted to a whites-only clientele—played a prominent role in the development of African American music. It now faces an uncertain future because it is not protected by local or national historic designations.

Shockoe Bottom – Richmond, Virginia. Once a center of slave trade in America, Shockoe Bottom was home to Solomon Northup’s jail in "12 Years a Slave" and contains numerous underground artifacts. The site is threatened by potential development of a minor league baseball stadium.

Union Terminal – Cincinnati, Ohio. Union Terminal, an iconic symbol of Cincinnati and a world-class example of Art Deco architecture, is suffering from deterioration and is in need of extensive repairs.

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.