Restoring Earthquake Damage to Kalahikiola Congregational Church

In restoring the 1855 church in Kohala after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake in 2006 caused parts of its rock masonry walls to collapse, Mason Architects had to balance historic preservation concerns with the future safety of the building's occupants.

The church was built by missionary Elias Bond and his parishioners from timber found on nearby hillside named Ka la hiki ola (the day salvation comes) and round field stones set in a soft lime mortar to form three-foot-thick-walls.

On October 15, 2006 the earthquake occurred 13 miles north of Kailua-Kona and was followed by a 6.0 aftershock and smaller ones during the day.

The tall rock masonry walls, lacking reinforcement, suffered extensive damage and collapsed completely at the makai end of the building.

The roof and ceiling framing , supported by interior center posts, remained intact but was in danger of collapse if exposed to strong lateral seismic forces.

Mason Architects and the congregation decided to remove the stone walls entirely, shore and brace the building, and erect new walls of reinforced CMU, which was then plastered and scored with mortar lines to resemble the church's original exterior.

Windows and doors, woodwork and hardware were carefully preserved and reinstalled in the new walls; every bit of the original church that could be salvaged was reused; missing parts were replaced with the closest match.

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AWARD: Historic Preservation Honor Award from Historic Hawai‘i Foundation, 2010.


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Kalahikiola Church after restoration.