Kaumakapili Church

project type

Preservation, Rehabilitation

year completed


Kaumakapili Church was founded in 1838 to serve the makaainana or common Hawaiian people. The current Gothic-Revival church was constructed in 1911 and is the most prominent feature of the urban Kalihi-Palama neighborhood.

In 1993, MASON conducted a study to assess the historic church’s condition and found significant structural damage. The wood-framed plaster exterior had been extensively damaged by termites, the four-story bell tower was unsound, and many of the stained glass windows had been damaged. Over the next ten years, parishioners raised $2.4 million for the restoration. Returning to spearhead the restoration project, MASON oversaw the complete interior and exterior repairs that were essential to supporting the Church and its efforts to reach the broader Hawaiian community.

One of the biggest hurdles to restoration was the lack of documentation. Because the original plans for the church had been lost, we relied on limited physical evidence and oral histories of longtime parishioners to recreate color schemes and interior details. A traditional three-coat plaster system replicated the heavy aggregate appearance of the original exterior walls. The interior of the sanctuary was repaired and repainted; new electrical wiring, lighting and carpeting were installed; state-of-the-art audio/visual systems were introduced; and new curved pews were engineered to replace those recycled from another church. The bell tower, piano pit, stairway, choir loft, and other structural features were also repaired and strengthened. The adjacent hall was restored to its original function as a two-tiered classroom area, built in accordance with the 19th century Akron Plan.

The overarching wooden trusses are an important element of the Gothic Revival style.

Project Details

  • Kaumakapili Church listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places in 2004 and is significant for its association with the establishment of Protestant Christianity in Hawaii.
  • It is the centerpiece of the 48,457 square foot North King Street campus.
  • The restoration of the church supports their Outreach Ministry programs, including the Hawaii Food Bank; “Free Store”; Ka Makana (support for orphans of Hawaiian ancestry); court-mandated community service programs; as well as Hawaii Literacy programs and AA support groups.


Historic Hawaii Foundation

Historic Preservation Honor Award, 2004

American Institute of Architects, Honolulu Chapter

Award of Merit, 2004


  • Preparation of Historic Structures Reports (HSR)
  • Preparation of State and National Register Nomination forms
  • Building Design and Engineering
  • Construction Documents
  • Permitting
  • Bidding Administration
  • Construction Contract Administration
  • Record Drawings

Left: The pews repeat the sweeping curve of the balcony. Right: Conservator Valerie Free restored the gilded pattern on the organ pipes.

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