The buildings are grouped in three sections – The Bond Homestead (established in 1841 by Boston missionary Reverend Elias Bond,) Kalāhikiola Church (completed in 1855) and Kohala Seminary (Kohala Girl’s School – complex founded in 1872.)
The Reverend and Mrs. Bond sailed with the Ninth Company of Missionaries from Boston and settled at Kohala, Hawai‘i. Bond arrived in Honolulu in May of 1841. They were then assigned to Kohala.
Reverend Isaac Bliss, an elderly missionary in Kohala, had already completed the main house of what is known as the Bond Homestead compound when Bond arrived in Kohala in June 1841.
To provide employment to the people in the region and support his church and schools, Reverend Bond founded Kohala Sugar Company, known as “The Missionary Plantation,” in 1862.
Reportedly, by 1885, Bond, who gave all his dividends and profits beyond his living expenses to the Board of Missions, was their largest single contributor. The plantation was shut down in 1973.
The heart of the Bond District is the Bond Homestead located in makai portion of the property. The Homestead consists of two residential buildings, one doctor’s office and several out buildings. The buildings contain many historic furnishings and artifacts dating from 1844.
The area is described in an 1849 account (in ‘The Island World of the Pacific’) as follows: “It stands in the center of an area of some five or six acres, enclose with a neat stone wall, and having a part of it cultivated as a garden, adorned with flowering shrubs and trees, as the pineapple, guava, acacia, mimosa, tamarind, kukui, mulberry, geranium, banana, Pride of China, sugar cane, etc.”
“The house is thatched with long leaves of the hala-tree (Pandanus), and has a very pretty, neat appearance, in connection with that tasteful keeping of the walks and grounds, like the pictures we have of thatched cottages and rural scenes of Old England.”
Kalāhikiola Church is located on a gently sloping site in the middle section of the property. The structure was a rectangular building made of lava rock walls.
Kalāhikiola (“the life-bringing sun” or “the day bringing salvation”) is the name of a small hill on the side of the Kohala Mountain; the name goes back to the time of the arrival of the first Christian missionaries. ‘Ōhi‘a timbers from forests on the hill were used in building the church; so when the church was consecrated on October 11, 1855 it was appropriately given the name Kalāhikiola.
In 2006, an earthquake severely damaged the building. In the restoration, the congregation decided to remove the stone walls entirely, shore and brace the building, and erect new walls of reinforced concrete, which was then plastered and scored with mortar lines to resemble the church’s original exterior.
The Kohala Girl’s School was Reverend Bond’s last major undertaking. For 30-years prior to the 1874 founding of the Kohala Girl’s School, Reverend Bond ran a boarding school for boys. His decision to build a separate facility to educate native Hawaiian women in Christian living and housekeeping was made in 1872.
The Kohala Seminary (Kohala Girl’s School) is located mauka of Kalāhikiola Church; it consists of six wood frame buildings scattered over approximately 3 acres.
The main residence building is a generally rectangular two-and-one-half story structure; the building was constructed in 1874 and was used as dormitory and classroom space. In 1955, the school stopped functioning.
In addition to the missionary work and founding and operating the school, the Bonds had 11-children born in Hawai‘i.
The District is listed on both the State of Hawai’i and the National Registers of Historic Places.
Many years ago, I had the good fortune to have been able to tour the Bond Homestead with Lyman Bond, great grandson of Reverend Elias Bond. It was a wonderful experience to have a descendent relate stories of the people and the place.
My brother-in-law, Paul Morgan, while studying architecture, did extensive review of the Kohala Girls School structures; he gave me a tour of the Girls School.
New Moon Foundation acquired acreage in and around the Bond Historic District. The purchase agreement included covenants specifying that real property located in the Bond Homestead is of historic significance and should be preserved and protected.
The buildings have been restored and put into education adaptive reuse; the site is now known as the Grace Center of the Kohala Institute at ‘Iole. Kohala Institute’s effort in restoring Grace Center was recognized by the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation with a 2017 Historic Preservation Honor Award.
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