The Oldest House in Hawaii Still Stands Strong After 202 Years

Historic Hawaii Mission House in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
© Al Opalchuk/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: August 14, 2023

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The oldest house in Hawaii, standing in Honolulu, was constructed in 1821, marking its impressive age of 202 years.

The oldest house in Hawaii has a rich history. The materials don’t even come from Hawaii! Can you guess just how old this wooden-frame building is? What was its purpose? Can you visit the oldest house in Hawaii?

Follow along to find out.

The Oldest House in Hawaii

The oldest house in Hawaii was built in 1821 in Honolulu and has been standing for 202 years! This building has multiple names including Ka Hale Lā‘au, the Old Mission House, and the 1821 Frame House. So, why was the Ka Hale Lā‘au built?

The Ka Hale Lā‘au is a kit house with a wooden frame. The pre-cut lumber was shipped from Boston to Hawaii. While the lumber arrived in 1820, it wasn’t constructed until 1821. It only took from March to August for missionaries to move into the home. The structure was for New England Protestant missionaries. Missionaries actively used it as a mission house from 1820 to 1862. Missionaries called this structure the Honolulu Mission Station.

The Honolulu Mission Station grew quickly and by the 1840s, five families lived in the station, and it had two kitchens. After the mission was over, the Cooke family lived in it until they gifted it to the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society. It’s been a historic site since 1907.

Old frame clapboard building at Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Ka Hale Lā‘au is the oldest house in Hawaii standing for 202 years.

©Steve Heap/Shutterstock.com

Can You Visit the Oldest House in Hawaii?

You can visit many of the missionary homes and buildings in Honolulu, including the Ka Hale Lā‘au. You can walk around the area or schedule a guided tour. They are available Tuesdays through Thursdays. On Tuesdays, you can take a missionary home guided tour at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. The schedule for Thursdays is the same, however, you can also take the tour at 3:00 p.m.

While walk-ins are available, you can also purchase tickets online and reserve your guided tour. The guided tour is 60 minutes long and has only up to 10 people. This old building is a National Historic Landmark, and the American Alliance of Museums accredited the site. The site includes the old house, a cemetery, the 1831 Chamberlain House, the 1841 Bedroom Annex, and a gift shop.

Other Landmarks in Honolulu

There are many historical sites and landmarks in Honolulu, not just the oldest Western-style house in Hawaii. You can find most of the landmarks on this list in the Hawaii Capital Historic District in Downtown Honolulu. Listed below are a few you might want to visit the next time you’re in Hawaii!

Kawaiahaʻo Church

The Kawaiahaʻo Church is an old church in Honolulu. Previously, this historic congregational church was the national church of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It is one of the oldest standing Christian churches in Hawaii and the oldest on Oʻahu. Hiram Bingham designed this old church, and it was built between 1836 and 1842 using 14,000 thousand-pound slabs of coral rock. This church is still active and uses the Hawaiian language for the service. Apart from attending a service, you can also take a self-guided walking tour.

Historic Kawaiahao Church, Honolulu's oldest Christian church, was constructed in 1820 of coral blocks.

Kawaiahaʻo Church is 200 years old.

©vasen/Shutterstock.com

Iolani Palace

The ʻIolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States. This beautiful building was the official royal residence and hosted the last reigning monarchs in Hawaii. King Kalakaua built this palace in 1882. The last royal resident was Queen Liliʻuokalani. After the monarchy was overthrown, the ʻIolani Palace was used as the capital building for the Provisional Government. This ended in 1969, but the building is still preserved and operates as a museum.

Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States, is decorated with colorful lanterns for the holiday season.

King Kalakaua built the ʻIolani Palace in 1882.

©cleanfotos/Shutterstock.com

Hawaii State Capitol

Another historical landmark in Honolulu is the Hawaii State Capitol, which replaced the palace as the state capitol. Construction for this lovely building began on November 10, 1965, and opened on March 15, 1969. Around the capitol are a reflecting pool and multiple statues. The statue of Father Damien is directly outside the Hawaii State Capitol Building. Between the capitol building and the ʻIolani Palace, is a statue of Queen Liliʻuokalani.

Hawaii State Capital building in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Hawaii State Capitol opened on March 15, 1969.

©W. Scott McGill/Shutterstock.com

Ali’iolani Hale and King Kamehameha Statue

Last but not least is the Ali’iolani Hale, an impressive and older building. It’s now the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court. This Italian Renaissance Revival-style building was made for kings. Thomas Rowe designed the elaborate palace for King Kamehameha V who ruled from 1863 to 1872. While this building was originally built as a palace, King Kamehameha V designated it as a government building seeing the need. Sadly, the king passed away before the project was completed. In front of the building, is a gold and black statue of Kamehameha I.

Statue of King Kamehameha in downtown Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.

In front of the Ali’iolani Hale, is the statue of King Kamehameha.

©EndeavorMoorePhotography/Shutterstock.com

Where is The Ka Hale Lā‘au Located on a Map?

The Ka Hale Lā‘au was built in 1821 and is the oldest still-standing house in Hawaii. In fact, the original lumber for the house was shipped from Boston near Cape Horn.

Here is The Ka Hale Lā‘au on a map:


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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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