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Missionary Influences
Monarchy Period
Territorial Architecture - The Golden Age
Ethnic Influences
Statehood to Today
Bibliography - Architecture

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Missionary Influences

From the arrival of Protestant missionaries in 1820 to about 1850, the design aesthetic of New England influenced the look of new buildings in the Islands. Better suited to the conditions of a Massachusetts winter, these buildings featured small windows and short roof overhangs. Rather than making use of local materials, missionaries built some of their first structures with lumber shipped from Boston. The first mission house - Oldest Frame House, still standing in Honolulu - was built from lumber unloaded in 1821 and was also the first pre-fabricated house built in Hawai`i. Ten years later, the second missionary house - Chamberlain House - was built of local coral rock, local mortar and lumber salvaged from shipwrecks.

The first mission buildings were functional: homes for missionaries, the Adobe School House (1835) built for schooling children of ali`i, and a coral block addition to the Oldest Frame House (1841) that housed the mission's printing operation.

The most significant structure was Kawaiaha`o Church, designed by Rev. Hiram Bingham and Dr. Gerritt Judd. Begun in 1837, the five-year community project was supervised by O`ahu Governor Boki and required a huge effort in terms of labor and materials. Workers cut 14,000 blocks of coral from the nearby reef, boys and men diving 10 to 20 feet underwater with saws and axes. Some of the building timber was harvested in northern O`ahu, floated by ocean to Kaneohe and carried by teams of men over the Pali to Honolulu. Completed in 1842, construction cost $20,000; Kamehameha III contributed $3,000 of the total. Originally dedicated as Ka Hale Pule, or the King's Chapel, the building was the largest and most politically significant structure throughout the decades of the Hawaiian monarchy. It served the ali`i for royal weddings, funerals and other significant events. It was at Kawaiaha`o in 1851 that Kamehameha III uttered his statement, "Ua mau ke ea o ka `aina" that has since become the state motto. Kamehameha IV and Emma were married in the church in 1856; Kamehameha II and Lunalilo both formally ascended to the throne there.

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