The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives: Where Two Worlds Meet


historic 001
Frame House (Hale La‘au) (1821)
The oldest wood frame structure still standing in the Hawaiian Islands, it was shipped around Cape Horn from Boston in 1820. It was used as a communal home by many missionary families who shared it with island visitors and boarders.

Hear architect Spencer Leineweber talk about the Frame House



historic 002

Chamberlain House (Ka Hale Kamalani) (1831)
This house bears the name of the Mission's first secular agent in Hawai‘i - Levi Chamberlain. In 1831, Chamberlain contracted for the building of this structure, which was to be used as a depository. The building was made of coral blocks cut away from the ocean reef, which were dried and bleached by the sun. These blocks were arranged and assembled to build the Chamberlain House. From this location, Levi Chamberlain was able to plan out and undertake the disbursement of provisions for the entire Sandwich Islands Mission. It now serves as the Museum's temporary Exhibition Gallery.

 

historic 003 Printing Office (Ka Hale Pa‘i) (1841)
Also built from coral blocks, this structure was completed in 1841 and contains a replica of the first printing press to be brought to Hawaii. Here, some of the first books and printed materials in Hawaii were produced. The restored printing office shows how early Protestant Missionaries and native Hawaiians collaborated on the production of numerous books and other printed materials first printed in the Hawaiian language

Listen to historian Peter Salter describe the Ramage Press


 


Mission Statement

The Hawaiian Mission Houses connects the story of the American Protestant missionaries and their descendants to the history and culture of Hawai‘i, in order to give present generations of residents and visitors a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, Hawai‘i's rich and complex history.


Hawaiian Mission Houses is a National Historic Landmark and is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

rightimage 005

Museum Collections

Cherished family heirlooms collected by the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society form the core of the curatorial collections at Hawaiian Mission Houses. Each of these objects, generously donated by individuals, families or institutions, has its own story to tell about the early missionaries, who left the comfort and security of their homes in New England to travel to a distant land thousands of miles away.

Many of the items in the Museum's collections survived a five-month journey around Cape Horn. They provide valuable insight into the domestic lives of 19th century Americans. Other pieces crafted locally or received as gifts from Hawaiian royalty or visiting sea captains, combine New England design with the use of Hawaiian materials such as native woods and fibers. Some pieces reflect the lucrative business of the China Trade.

• Furniture & Domestic Artifacts
• Textiles
• Personal artifacts
• Tools and equipment
• Communication and recreation artifacts
• Art objects

Anna Blackwell - Judd Lantern 

Listen to Judd descendant Anna Blackwell share the history of the 
Judd Lantern on display at the Hawaiian Mission Houses


 

Library Collections

The HMCS Library collections focus on the Missionary Period in Hawaiian history and contain over 12,000 printed volumes and over 250 linear feet of manuscript material, including:

• Hawaiian-language imprints produced on the missionary press
• Micronesian and Marquesan language books, including Bibles
• Microfilms of missionary journals and letters
• Missionary journals, written in their own hand
Manuscripts
• Photographs of missionaries and their homes and churches. Also of Hawaiian ali´i.
• Art-on-paper. Many missionaries were proficient in art, and some of their work has survived.
• Pamphlets related to missionary work and everyday lives
• To search our published works, go to our online catalog.

Gov. John Burns is presented with a copy of the Missionary Album
T. Twigg Smith, Charles Black, Rev. Akaka, Annie Kanahele, and Rev. Terpstra
present Gov. John Burns with a copy of the Missionary Album (Sept. 1969)

Listen as Betty Alexander shares her experience working on the Missionary Album


Mission Cemetery

The Mission Cemetery, established in 1823 on the grounds of Kawaiah a`o Church and maintained by the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society, is the oldest Christian graveyard in Hawai`i.  

A walk through the Cemetery is a trip back in time, with Binghams, Bishops, Alexanders, Chamberlains, Castles, Cookes, Armstrongs and Gulicks buried on the grounds. The first adult missionary buried here was Elizabeth Edwards Bishop (1728 - 1828), the second wife of the Reverend Artemas Bishop, who came to the Islands in 1823 with the Second Company from New Haven. She shares a plot with her husband and her son, the Reverend Sereno Edwards Bishop, who was only a year old when his mother died.

Also, of three Hawaiian men schooled in Connecticut by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions that returned to their native Hawai`i to aid the missionaries in the First Company, one, William Kanui (ca. 1796 - 1864) is buried here.

Burials still take place in the cemetery. Missionary descendants from Hawai`i and around the world continue to be buried in or near their family plots, where they may rest with their ancestors. Any person descended from the individuals and families associated with the Sandwich Islands Mission may be interred at this burial ground. Contact the Society Relations Director Mary Ann Lentz at (808) 447-3922 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
Listen to former Hawaiian Mission Houses membership coordinator Lee Wild share her memories of managing the cemetery

Lee Wild - Kawaiahao Church Cemetery 

Collections

Hawaiian Mission Houses collects, preserves, interprets and exhibits documents, artifacts and other records of Hawaii's missionary period (1820 - 1863) and beyond. The Museum makes these collections available for research, educational purposes and enjoyment.

The Museum's collection holds over 3,000 Hawaiian, Western, and Pacific artifacts and more than 12,000 books, manuscripts, original letters, diaries, journals, illustrations and Hawaiian church records.

The Museum strives to promote cross-cultural understanding of Hawaii's history, both past and present; therefore, it places great emphasis on incorporating contemporary elements into nearly all of its exhibitions, adult and school programs, workshops and special events.
 

Sam Cooke - Kekela WatchListen to former Hawaiian Mission Children's Society board member Sam Cooke give an account of the
theft and recovery of the Kekela watch