Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s first Christian church, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, has been named one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 most endangered Historic Places.

Built in 1837 by Boston missionaries, the large stone structure and its unique steeple stand out among the newer restaurants, boutiques and galleries of downtown Kailua-Kona.  Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, Mokuaikaua Church is built from rocks said to be sourced from a nearby heiau and inside the beams are made of ohia.

Founded in 1949, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, aims to preserve and raise awareness about historic sites.


Completed in 1837, Mokuaikaua is Hawaii’s first Christian church and has been named one of the 11 most endangered historic places by National Trust for Historic Preservation. The church is located in downtown Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Started in 1988, the goal behind 11 Most Endangered Historic Places lists is “to raise awareness about the threats facing some of the nation’s greatest treasures” according to the trust’s website.

The trust looks for not only the most threatened historic places, but also takes into account geography and the type of threat, including natural disasters and encroaching development, so that each year the list covers various places across the United States.

Mokuaikaua is not the first Hawaii site to make the 11 most endangered list. Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium was listed in 1995, Wa’ahila Ridge in 1997, Ford Island at Pearl Harbor  in 2001, and most recently, Lanai City  in 2009.

The parish nominated Mokuaikaua church saying that earthquakes and weather were causing the building to deteriorate.

“In this case we got a nomination from the parish itself and they outlined the significance of the building and the threat and damages done from various natural disasters plus  the wear and tear associated with the island climate,” said Sheri Freemuth, senior field officer at National Trust for Historic Preservation, said.

Mokuaikaua Church has earthquake damage, rotting wood and termite damage.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation cited the need for repairs that include an interior steel frame to support the exterior walls, restoration of the damaged interior beams as well as mending three major cracks caused by earthquakes.

The other 10 historic sites in alphabetical order are as follows:

Battle Mountain Sanitarium –Hot Springs, South DakotaBattle 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.

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 JerseySeveral 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.

About the Author