Ka Hale La’au
Hawai'i's oldest wooden house was shipped around Cape Horn from Boston in 1820.
The oldest surviving wooden house on O’ahu was a kit house! In 1821 the Frame House (“Ka Hale La’au”) was erected from pre-cut timbers sent all the way around Cape Horn from Boston, Massachusetts, for the missionaries who had arrived on the island the year prior.
It was Hawaiian Henry Ōpukaha‘ia who told the missionaries about the Hawaiian islands, and the warring peoples he left behind after his family was killed. After converting to Christianity himself, he rallied the missionaries in Boston around his cause. Though he never returned to the islands, Ōpukaha‘ia actions had a huge impact on Hawai’i’s culture.
As luck would have it, when the missionaries arrived they found that Hawai’i had undergone a number of changes since Ōpukaha‘ia had left the islands. The island was much more peaceful than the one Ōpukaha‘ia had left behind. The missionaries were prepared to “aim at making people of every class wise and good and happy,” but they were not prepared to live in thatched houses. In 1821, pre-cut timber arrived from Boston to build their shared housing, which you can still see in Honolulu, along with other buildings and a museum dedicated to the history.
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