History of the Waimea Mission
Written for the Bicentennial Celebration in 2020
May 3rd, 1820: The brig Thaddeus came to Waimea
with Rev. Samuel Whitney (wife Mercy Partridge) and Rev. Samuel Ruggles (wife
Nancy) along with George “Humehume,” son of King Kaumualii. They received a
very positive reception, but the missionary families returned to Oahu shortly
July 1820: the missionaries returned to Kauai. The Ruggles
soon went off to Hanapepe to establish the mission there.
For the Whitneys, King Kaumualii built a small thatched
meetinghouse about 200 yards mauka of the present highway on the eastside of
In 1824 King Kaumualii died. He had been a patron and warm
friend to the Christian mission. After his death an uprising took place.
Governor Kaikioewa was appointed to rule over Kauai by King Kamehameha. He was
also a good friend to the missionaries and became a Christian in 1830.
In 1826 A large thatched church (90’ x 30’) was built by
Kaikioewa where the present stone church now stands.
In 1834 the thatched church was burned down at the
instigation of a prisoner and replaced by a stone and mud church at a cost of
By 1846 the foundation of the mud and stone church was
failing, so the present stone church was started. Rev. George Rowell (an
architect and cabinet maker) was called in from the Waioli Mission in Hanalei
to provide the expertise. Queen Deborah Kapule (widow of King Kaumualii)
provided oxen to haul materials.
It was a poor time to start building. The people had no
money. Influenza had decimated the congregation. Rev. Rowell reported that by
1847 only a few stones and a little lumber were cut. People had to haul ohia
lehua trees down from Kokee and plane them square for the thirty-foot rafters.
The walls of the new church were built of limestone that was dug from the
ground mauka of the road and dragged there to the site over a mile away. A
limekiln was constructed in the churchyard.
By 1853 the walls and roof were completed. The first worship
in the Stone Church was held in 1854. The floor and pews were only completed by
In 1865 a congregational schism caused Rev. Rowell to depart
from the church and erect a new wooden church makai of the current highway (now
the Ohana Niihau Ekalesia). The membership of the Stone Church dwindled until
the building stood empty.
In 1885 a strong storm blew the shingles off the roof and
the boards flew off the belfry. Still the frame of the roof and the belfry
stood intact—a tribute to fine workmanship.
In 1886 Mr. Paul Isenberg was in Waimea on one of his
periodical trips to places of interest. He saw the pitiable condition of the
Stone Church building and started a campaign to save the structure. He raised
$1,800 with which the roof was re-shingled and the belfry boarded up. The area
around the church was overgrown with no access to the building.
In 1894 the local population had greatly increased due to
sugar production and some folks wished to establish the Waimea Foreign Church
Society. The stone structure was properly repaired with the help of the
plantations and much volunteer labor.
In 1895 Rev. Massie was called to be the new pastor. From
this point on regular ministry continued at the Stone Church uninterrupted.
In 1930 the church was renovated. A new floor was put down.
The belfry was reconstructed. The roof was re-shingled.
In 1978 Volunteer labor cleaned up the long-neglected left
hand side of the cemetery and grass was planted. A columbarium was financed by
the pre-sale of niches.
In 1979 Handrails were installed.
In 1982 Hurricane Iwa hit Kauai. The bell tower was toppled.
From pictures of the original the new bell tower was built.
In 1984-5 Baird Hall was constructed adding a fellowship
room and first ever restrooms to the church site.
In 1986 a sidewalk between the Stone Church and Baird Hall
was laid. An access ramp was also constructed. Ceiling fans and pew cushions
were also replaced.
In 1988 The Stone Church roof was re-shingled. Plans to
replace the floor were made.
In 1992 Hurricane Iniki (a category 5 storm) lifted the roof
of the church off and collapsed part of the back wall. The interior of the
church was gutted. Careful historical reconstruction of the Stone Church
continued for the next two years.
In 2008 a concrete driveway was poured.
In 2016-17 a new lanai was attached to Baird Hall. A kitchen
was built—first time the church had a kitchen. A church office and nursery
classroom were also constructed. Again, first time that the church has had a
regular office and classrooms on site.
By Rev. Dr. Olaf Hoeckmann-Percival, 2020