Kaumakapili Church Parishioners Provide Clues to its Restoration

Because the original plans for the 1911 Gothic Revival style church had been lost, Mason Architects' restoration relied on long-time parishioners to remember the general color schemes, the placement of door openings long since filled in, and details such as the cutaway designs on the missing folding doors.

Termites had damaged the wood frame underlying the church's plaster exterior, the four-story bell tower was unsound, and many of its stained glass windows were missing, broken by strong winds or vandals. Rooms adjoining the sanctuary had been converted to a medical clinic.

The congregation commissioned a study from MAI in 1993 to document the church's condition, and over the next ten years members raised the $2.4 million needed for the restoration through their annual luau, a capital campaign dinner, and grants from corporations, trusts, and foundations.

The interior of the sanctuary was repaired and repainted and new electrical wiring, lighting, and carpeting were installed; new curved pews and a new state-of-the-art audio-visual system were introduced. Conservator Valerie Free restored the gilded pattern on the organ pipes.

The bell-tower, piano pit, stairway, choir loft, and other structural wooden features were repaired and strengthened; and a three-coat plaster system replicated the aggregate appearance of the original exterior walls.

Judson Studios restored the historic Good Shepherd window and recreated 42 new stained glass windows based on the original design; shards of glass discovered in the crawl space gave clues to the original colors.

The medical clinic adjoining the sanctuary moved to a new location, and the space was restored to its original function as a two-tiered classroom area, built in accordance with the 19th century Akron Plan.

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Kaumakapili Church National Register Nomination Form

AWARDS: Award of Merit from the AIA, Honolulu Chapter, 2004. Historic Preservation Award from the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation, 2003-4.

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Photography: David Franzen Photography

An intimate sanctuary was created by setting the pulpit at an angle to the room and surrounding it with curved pews.