La Pietra's History

Established in 1964, La Pietra – Hawaii School for Girls was originally the vision of two extraordinary women: Lorraine Day Cooke and Barbara Cox Anthony. They believed strongly that girls in Hawaii would thrive in a school built just for them.

More than 40 years later, La Pietra continues to be a place where young women flourish in a supportive community led by a vision that values each girl’s journey toward a life of passion, confidence, and success that they themselves define.

A Significant Piece of Hawaiian History

In 1910, Walter Dillingham married Louise Gaylord. Bucking the current trend of wealthy families living in Manoa, Mr. Dillingham chose to build his new bride a home on a dry and—at the time—remote area on the slopes of Diamond Head. With the help of famed Chicago architect, David Adler, they built a home similar to the Villa La Pietra they admired in Tuscany while on their honeymoon. With that, La Pietra – meaning The Gem or The Rock – was born.

The Dillingham home was completed in 1922 and included 5 bedrooms, a swimming pool, a formal dining room, horse stables, servants' quarters, tennis courts, and a game/pool table room. For the next 40 years, La Pietra was a social center for Honolulu’s wealthy and famous, with visitors to the estate including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Walt Disney.

Upon Mr. Dillingham's death in 1963, a local private school gained ownership of La Pietra and used it for faculty housing. Meanwhile, Mrs. Cooke and Mrs. Anthony began raising funds to buy a site for the newly incorporated Hawaii School for Girls. With its start at Central Union Church, Hawaii School for Girls was the island’s only secular independent girls' school.

A School is Born

After purchasing the Dillingham Estate in 1969, Hawaii School for Girls, which consisted of nine founding teachers, 210 girls and Head of School, Joseph Pynchon, relocated to the current location. Mrs. Anthony joined the school’s board of trustees, where she served many years as Board Chair. Under the strong leadership of Mrs. Anthony and Mr. Pynchon, La Pietra flourished.

Over the years, various enhancements were made to the campus. A six classroom building named in honor of Mrs. Cooke was dedicated in January 1977. The athletic complex, completed in 1987, was named in honor of Mrs. Anthony in 2008. Bachman Science Center was built in 1997. Most recently, the school renovated its library to create Hawaii’s first all-digital school library.

La Pietra - Hawaii School for Girls is an independent, college preparatory school for girls grades 6 through 12. The student-teacher ratio is 10 to 1, assuring full attention to every girl. La Pietra - Hawaii School for Girls is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school is a charter member of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS) and a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

Courtyard 2.jpg

Historical Facts

  • La Pietra opened in 1964 as Hawaii School For Girls
  • Was the former Dillingham Estate