Humble Beginnings

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently unveiled its plans for a large master development in Laie, with 1,200 homes, shopping centers, churches and parks. If completed, the development would represent a dramatic change for the mostly agricultural North Shore area, and a logical next step for a church that has brought in an LDS temple, Brigham Young University-Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

The LDS Church wasn’t always so influential. Its missionaries first arrived in Hawai‘i in 1850, and Laie became its main base of operations in 1865, when the Church bought 6,000 acres there for $14,000 (about $1.9 million today). These photos from the Hawai‘i State Archives show those early days of the Mormon community, spanning from the 1870s, when the congregation numbered only a handful, until the construction of the current LDS temple, completed in 1919.

An undated photo of the early Mormon Settlement.

The caption on this photo reads, "View from the Mission House, 1887."

The Mormon Temple as it appeared in the ’70s. The 1870s, that is.

The LDS congregation stands outside the recently-completed Temple, in 1921.

The Temple as it appeared in 1930.