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Iconic Kona Church Threatened, National Group Says

June 24, 2014, 4:23 PM HST
* Updated June 24, 4:24 PM
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A Kona landmark is in dire need of attention to ensure its survival, according to the National Trust for Historic Properties.

Mokuaikaua Church in Kailua-Kona today was named to the organization’s 2014 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

The church was built in 1837 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

“As the first Christian church in Hawaii, Mokuaikaua has withstood the ravages of island life nearly 200 years” Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement.

“Today, however, it needs critical improvements to carry its history forward into a new century.”

The interior of the church is rich in koa and ohia wood. Courtesy Mokuaikaua Church.

The interior of the church is rich in koa and ohia wood. Courtesy Mokuaikaua Church.

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That includes repair of cracks caused by the 2006 Kiholo earthquake. The building also has faulty electrical wiring and termite damage and dry rot in its ohia beams, including those holding up the iconic steeple, described as the tallest structure in West Hawaii.

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The United Church of Christ Congregation has begun a campaign to raise at least $3 million for repairs. Without them, church officials say, the historic building may be at the point of being beyond repair.

Planned renovations include shoring up the exterior stone walls and roof, repairing three major cracks and replacing rotted beams.

The walls are believed to have been built out of stones from a nearby heiau with mortar made of burned coral.

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The annual list of endangered places, now in its 27th year, is an opportunity for the National Trust for Historic Preservation to spotlight important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

The trust said of the more than 250 sites that have been featured, only a handful have been lost.

The 2014 list can be found at the trust’s website.

The church’s website is here.

The Mokuaikaua Church steeple marks the landmark in Kailua-Kona. Courtesy Mokuaikaua Church.

The Mokuaikaua Church steeple is an iconic landmark in Kailua-Kona. Courtesy Mokuaikaua Church.

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