Featured image © Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives is a unique and fascinating museum located in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is dedicated to preserving the history of Christianity in early Hawaii through its displays of artifacts, documents, photographs, and other memorabilia from the 19th century. The mission houses are some of the oldest surviving structures on Oahu, having been built by missionaries who arrived in 1820 to spread their religion throughout the islands. This site offers visitors an opportunity to explore both religious history as well as architecture that has withstood time for over 200 years. Whether you’re interested in art or history, there’s something here for everyone!


  • The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives is a unique and important cultural destination located in Honolulu.
  • Built between 1821 and 1841, the mission houses are one of Hawaii’s most significant historical sites.
  • Browse an array of artifacts from Hawaii’s mission era, including furniture, clothing, books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, artwork, tools, scientific instruments, religious items, and more.
  • Visitors can explore each mission house to get a firsthand look at how missionaries lived during Hawaii’s mission period.
  • The site offers educational programs for adults and children alike which cover topics ranging from traditional Hawaiian crafts to missionary life in 19th-century Hawaii and beyond.


Hawaii is a land of a thousand tales, where the paths of Native Hawaiians, international sailors, foreign merchants, and American Protestant missionaries cross in a rich, complex history. The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives is your gateway to this captivating past. Located in Honolulu’s Historic Capitol District, this historical site was once the headquarters of the Sandwich Islands Mission from 1820 to 1863. Supported by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Boston, Massachusetts, the mission played a major role in shaping Hawaii’s culture and society.

Today, the museum complex boasts four preserved houses, a research archive, and even an active cemetery, all providing an authentic glimpse into what life was like in 19th-century Hawai‘i. By visiting the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives, visitors can gain a better understanding of Hawai’i’s past while simultaneously learning more about the culture today.

The Four Historic Houses

The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives is home to four historic houses that were built between 1821-1841 by the early Protestant missionaries who arrived in the islands during this period. These four buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and provide visitors with an interesting glimpse into 19th-century life in Hawaii. Each house features its distinct architectural style, showcasing how these early settlers adapted their designs to fit within their new environment.

Hale Kamalani (Chamberlain House)

This stunning home was built back in 1831 using coral blocks from the ocean, so you know it’s got some serious island flair. Originally built as a home for Levi and Maria Chamberlain and their family, it also doubled as a depository for mission supplies. Inspired by the Chamberlains’ work, the quartermaster designed the house with two levels, an attic, and a cellar, perfectly suited to hold both people and supplies. And don’t underestimate the importance of good design – the windows are bigger, more numerous, and specially shuttered against that pesky Hawaiian sun. Today, this historic gem serves as the Museum’s main exhibition hall, showcasing the rich and intriguing history of early missionary life in Hawaii.

Ka Hale La`au (The Wooden House)

Discover the captivating story of the oldest surviving wooden house in Hawai‘i: Ka Hale La`au (The Wooden House). Built-in 1821 from pre-cut timbers shipped from Boston, this multi-family home served as a vital living space for the early missionaries who arrived on the island the year before. It housed as many as five other missionary families, along with occasional ailing sailors or orphans. The small parlor served as a schoolhouse, and the basement was a dining hall. The cookhouse was a separate building. This unique historic site offers a glimpse into Oahu’s past and the impact of missionary work on Hawaiian culture. Find out how Hawaiian Henry Ōpukaha‘ia’s actions led to its construction and how the missionaries were unprepared to live in thatched houses upon arrival. Visit this noteworthy landmark and feel history come alive before your eyes.

Ka Hale Pa‘i (The Printing House)

The Printing House’s story is interwoven with the rich history of Lahainaluna School – the first secondary school west of the Rockies – where students learned how to set type, operate the printing press, create copper engravings, and bind books. Originally built in 1841 as a bedroom annex for mission families, this historic site now showcases a working replica of the Ramage Printing Press – the first press in Hawaii. You can even witness how the missionaries and native Hawaiians collaborated to produce the first materials printed in the Hawaiian language.

Built from coral blocks and fieldstones gathered from surrounding hillsides, the building served the school for over a century. In addition to printing textbooks and teaching aids, students also printed the Hawaiian Kingdom’s first paper currency. Sadly, by the 1960s, the Printing House was in disrepair and declared unsafe for occupancy. Thanks to citizen efforts, the building was restored and now serves as a printing museum and archive center. Come discover the fascinating story of Ka Hale Pa’i and the foundations of Hawaiian literature and printing.

Hale Pili o Nā Mikanele

This building, first occupied by Reverend William and Clarissa Richards in 1823, was designed in the missionary style and was important to the development of a Hawaiian constitutional government. After nearly a decade of planning and construction, this unique structure is the newest addition to the HawThe Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives. Home to the Second Company of American Protestant missionaries to Hawaii, this grass house played an integral role in expanding the missionary outreach, forging relationships with the royal family, and developing a Hawaiian constitutional government.

Come visit the reproduction of the hale pili for the Richards family, modeled after one ordered by Boki, and experience the cultural bridge and cooperative relationships that existed between the chiefs and the missionaries. The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives are proud to be reconstructing the Richards hale pili, showcasing the non-traditional use of spaces where many activities took place and missionaries did not separate gender activities into different buildings.

Things to Do

The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives is a unique destination to explore the history of early Christian missionaries in Hawaii. Step back in time and gain insight into the culture, religion, and education of native Hawaiians during the 19th century. From exploring artifacts at the museum to taking a guided tour, there are many fascinating things for visitors to experience at Hawaiian Mission Houses Museum.

Take a Guided Tour

Guided Tours at Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives are an incredible way to explore Hawaii’s rich history. Expert tour guides lead guests through centuries-old buildings, allowing them to connect with the past and gain deep insight into how Hawaiians lived in the 19th century. Through interactive displays, visitors can explore artifacts such as original church documents, photographs, furniture, quilts, periodicals, and books from the mission era.

Rates are affordable, with general admission tickets priced at just $20 per person. If you’re a kama’aina, senior citizen, or military member, you’ll enjoy a discount and only pay $15 per person. Students and Keiki with student IDs get an even better deal at $10 per person. Tours are limited in size, with a maximum of 10 people per group. This ensures an intimate and personalized experience for all guests. The knowledgeable guides will lead you on a 60-minute tour, sharing the rich history of the Mission Houses and the role they played in Hawaii’s past. To reserve your tickets, simply book at least 24 hours in advance. If you’re feeling spontaneous, it also accepts same-day reservations and walk-ins based on availability.

Participate in Educational Programs

In addition to exploring these historic structures, visitors can also take part in educational programs at The Hawaiian Mission Houses which seek to honor and educate about this period in history. These educational programs focus on themes such as language and faith; community and identity; music; hula; and traditional arts. With a combination of interactive workshops led by experts in these areas of study as well as guided tours around the site itself, guests have the chance to learn all about this important part of Hawaiian culture.

The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives truly provide an opportunity for both locals and visitors alike to dive deep into both Hawaii’s past and its rich culture today. It is a space for understanding, learning, honoring tradition, and connecting with one another – all while appreciating some of Hawaii’s most treasured historical sites

Attend Special Events

The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives regularly host various types of special events throughout the year including musical concerts showcasing classical compositions inspired by native Hawaiian music styles played inside one of our historic houses providing a unique experience unlike any other. It also offers evening lectures covering different topics related to mission life such as religion or politics, theatrical performances showcasing stories rooted deeply within Hawaiian culture designed with both entertainment value & educational purpose, free movie screenings featuring classic films related to missions, & much more.

Tips For Visiting

  • Take a guided tour of the site to get an in-depth understanding of its history and significance.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you may be doing a lot of walking around the large grounds.
  • Bring your camera so that you can capture all the beautiful sights on the property, including historic buildings and lush gardens.
  • Have a plan for what you’d like to learn or explore while visiting Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives.
  • Be sure to bring sunscreen and water if it is hot outside, as there is limited shade in parts of the facility grounds.
  • Make sure to read up on Hawaiian culture before your visit; this will give you more context when exploring each area within the museum complex.
  • Ask questions! The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site’s unique history, making them an excellent resource for visitors seeking out information about their trip.
  • Respectfully take pictures but don’t touch any artifacts or ancient structures during your time at Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site as they should remain preserved intact for future generations.

The Importance of Preserving Historic Sites and Archives

Serving as a reminder of the missionary work in the 19th century, Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives is a symbol of religious and cultural exchange between East and West. As such, it is essential to preserve these historic sites for both the educational value and the insight they provide into Hawaiian culture and history.

One way to preserve Hawaiian Mission Houses is by providing ongoing support for its conservation efforts. This could include offering resources such as grants, education programs, or volunteer projects for local students and historians. In addition, public outreach campaigns can be used to spread awareness about the importance of preserving these sites. Furthermore, the preservation of these sites can also aid in the protection and promotion of traditional Hawaiian practices that may have otherwise been lost over time. By recording information about these customs through visitor interviews or archival research projects, we can ensure that the missionaries’ legacy lives on long after their physical remains have been destroyed or altered. These sites also serve as an important reminder of our shared history with other cultures around the world—a reminder that should be respected and cherished for generations to come. For this reason alone, we must take action now to protect these historic sites from any potential harm or destruction that could arise from neglect or exploitation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives is a museum and archives located in Honolulu, Hawaii, dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of 19th-century Protestant missions to Hawaii. It consists of three restored mission houses built between 1821 and 1841 by American Protestant missionaries, as well as an archive containing original documents from the mission period.

The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Sites and Archives contain a variety of artifacts associated with the lives of 19th-century missionaries in Hawaii. These include furniture from mission houses, religious objects used during services like Bibles, hymnals, chalices, clothing items such as hats and bonnets worn by missionaries, tools they used for farming and other everyday tasks, scientific instruments used in research on native culture and language as well as a wide range of archival documents from that era.

You can find more information about The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Sites and Archives on their website at https://missionhouses.org/. This website contains detailed information about the history of the site, its artifacts, and collections as well as upcoming events. You can also contact them via email or phone if you have any further inquiries about visiting or learning more about the site.

Yes, the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives have a gift shop where guests can purchase a variety of souvenirs and memorabilia. From books about the missionaries’ journeys, jewelry depicting traditional cultures, and postcards featuring images of mission houses, there is something for everyone at this special gift shop. The proceeds from purchases made at the shop also help support the preservation of these important sites so that future generations can appreciate their beauty and significance.

It is open every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday to experience our products from 10.30 am to 2.30 pm and 10.30 am to 3.30 pm, respectively. Please note there is no admission on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives is a living history museum that seeks to preserve and commemorate the legacy of 19th-century missionaries who came to Hawaii.

How To Get There

By Car

If you’re driving from Waikīkī, the best route is to take Ala Moana Blvd for about two miles, then turn right on Alakea St., followed by right turns on King Street and Kawaiaha’o Street. Just make sure to find the right parking option when you get there.


For metered parking, head to Kawaiaha’o Street, Mission Lane, or South Street. Alternatively, there’s a parking lot on the corner of South Street and Queen Street with a range of options, including a flat rate of $6 between 6 AM and 9 AM, 2-hour parking for $3, 4-hour parking for $7, day-long parking for $12, and overnight parking for just $2.

Another option is the Frank Fasi Municipal Building parking lot, located on the left corner of South King Street and Alapai Street. This metered parking facility only accepts credit cards with rates starting at $1.50 per half-hour (3-hour max) Monday through Friday, but it’s free after 4 PM on weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays.

By Bus

If you’re planning to take the bus, Routes 2, 4, 13, and 42, along with the Express B line, all stop frequently along Kuhio Ave. in Waikiki. Get off at the Beretania/Punchbowl stop and walk one block toward the ocean on Punchbowl, then turn left on King Street. Hawaiian Mission Houses is located just one block away on the ocean side of King Street. Adult bus fare costs $2.50, while kids and seniors can ride for just $1.25. Remember to carry the exact fare, as change is not given. For more information, pricing, route maps, and schedules, visit www.thebus.org or call 808-848-5555.

Visit Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives!

Explore the historic mission houses, as well as the native Hawaiian structures and artifacts on-site. From learning about traditional Hawaiian quilting or gardening techniques to exploring exhibits that highlight early missionary life in Hawai‘i—there is something for everyone at the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives. Come experience the past and be a part of preserving its legacy today!