A Tour of Hawaii’s Gothic Architectural Landmarks

Wailana Kalama

Gothic Architecture was an experiment in Hawaii largely in the late half of the 19th century. Properly known as Gothic Revival, the style was popularized by official government and religious buildings, mostly on O’ahu.

1. Kaumakapili Church


Kaumakapili Church in Honolulu is notable for its brick frame, painted windows and red steeple. Built in 1838, it was intended as a Protestant church for common people, as the only other church in Honolulu, Kawaiahao, was attended exclusively by royalty.

2. The Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew

Building, Cathedral, Church

When Kamehameha IV assumed power in 1855, he established the Anglican Church of Hawai’i and oversaw the construction of The Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew. Completed in 1867, the building displays the first use of vaulting in Hawaii.

3. ‘Iolani Barracks

Building, Historical Landmark

Completed in 1871, ‘Iolani Barracks was previously located just behind the Hawaii State Capitol building. Designed by architect Theodore Heuck as a tribute to medieval castles, the building is made up of crenellated parapets, towers, and is constructed of 4,000 coral blocks. It housed 80 members of the Royal Guard until the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. In 1965, the structure was moved and now serves as a visitors center, gift shop, and ticket office for ‘Iolani Palace.

4. Moana Surfrider

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel

The beachfront pool area at Moana Surfrider on Waikiki Beach with palms and ocean beside
Courtesy of Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort and Spa, Waikiki Beach / Expedia
Opened in 1901 as the first hotel in Waikiki, The Moana Hotel, as it was originally called, has hosted prominent celebrities, including King Edward VIII, Agatha Christie, and Duke Kahanamoku. The hotel is strikingly recognizable thanks to its Ionic columns, intricate woodwork, ornate plaster, high ceilings, and cross-ventilation windows. It is notable as the site for the first electric-powered elevator on the islands, which is still in use today.

5. Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace

Building, Cathedral, Church

Founded in 1843, the Hawaii Catholic Church grew unimpressed with the initial building design of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, and they transformed it in typical gothic style, including high ceilings and arched windows.

6. Hui’ia Church


The Hui’ia Church of Wai ‘oli Mission District in Kaua’i shows gothic influences in a muted exterior, arched stained glass windows, and a modest belfry tower. Although it’s been home to missionaries since the 1830s, the current church was not built until 1912.

7. Makawao Union Church


One of the few gothic buildings on Maui, Makawao Union Church was designed by architect C.W. Dickey and was dedicated in 1917. Built of basalt lava rock walls, oak doors, slate roof and stained-glass windows, it’s crowning emblem is the Seth Thomas clock on the Norman-style tower.

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