Aloha – Welcome – E Komo Mai – Come In
Lahaina has a history that began as these volcanic islands erupted from below the sea, eons ago. The molten lava mountains formed Maui, Hawaii’s second largest island. In 450 A.D. the first Polynesian voyagers discovered the island. They stayed and played, sharing their new home with visitors from far and near.
To this day, a favorite pastime is telling and re-telling a tale of the demi-god, Maui, creator of the sun-drenched paradise. First he pulled the islands from the sea with his giant fish hook. Then his mother,Hina, complained that the sun moved so quickly across the sky that she could not dry her wash or grow her garden. Maui son was dispatched to the top of Haleakala, House of the Sun, to lasso the sun. “I will only let you go if you promise to forever cross slowly over this island,” Maui told the sun. The sun agreed, thus creating the sun-drenched playground of the island of Maui.
A succession of Maui kings ruled the island as European explorers found their way to the sheltered bay at Lahaina. In 1790 the warriors of King Kamehameha the Great defeated the army of Maui’s King Kahekili. Then Kamehameha III named Lahaina the capitol of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
The New England missionaries and the ships of the Yankee Pacific whaling fleet arrived and Lahaina became the center of commerce and society. Grog shops and sailors gave color to whaling stories and the epic Herman Melville tale of Moby Dick. Churches were filled with song. The first high school west of the Rocky Mountains, Lahainaluna, was established. In the mid-1800’s sugar plantations, followed later by pineapple fields, created a need for workers, migrating from Japan, China and the Philippines, adding exotic customs and flavors.
Needing a deep harbor for international commerce, the seat of government moved to Honolulu. Hawaii became a state in 1959. Lahaina continued to blossom with shops, art galleries, restaurants and entertainment taking the place of seafarers quarters. Lahaina is a place of firsts; the first printing press, the first Hawaiian newspaper and, now, the first oceanfront outlet stores – continuing to offer Hawaiian hospitality, entertainment and a warm island welcome to all at The Outlets of Maui.
Historic Sites of Lahaina Town
The Baldwin Home
A two-story structure was the home of the Protestant medical missionary, Dwight Baldwin, and his family from the mid-1830s to 1868. The House served as a medical office, and as a general center for missionary activity, with a seamen’s chapel and Christian reading rooms for ship’s masters and men nearby. The Baldwins had a fine garden of native and introduced plants: kukui, kou, banana, guava, figs and grape arbors. The home and grounds were restored by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation in the early 1960s, complete with the many pieces of original furniture and other antiques of the period.
Wo Hing Museum
Chinese history in Lahaina predates the whalers and missionaries. With the passage of years, the Chinese community grew. True to their heritage, they maintained social and political ties with their ancestral homes. They built meeting halls or temples where there societies could meet. In 1909 the Chinese living in Lahaina formed the Wo Hing Society, a branch of the Chee Kung Tong, a fraternal society with chapters throughout the world. In 1912, using private donations, the society built a two-story temple on Front Street.
Constructed in 1859, much of the material used in the construction of the original Courthouse came from King Kamehameha III’s palace (Hale Piula) that was destroyed during the Kauaula wind of 1858.
An old adobe thatched building which preceded Hale Aloha was referred to as “The School House” and was built in 1831. The members of Wainee (now Waiola) Church in 1836 purchased lumber and with their own hands laid a good floor and made desks and seats for the school. In 1851 the Kauaula wind destroyed the building. Later the Wainee Church voted to replace the ruins with a new house in commemoration of their said God’s causing Lahaina to escape the small-pox epidemic that desolated Oahu in 1853. The new building was completed in 1858, and was named Hale Aloha.
One of the earliest Lahaina Restoration Foundation projects was the restoration of Hale Pa`i (the house of printing). It is located on the Lahainaluna Campus. The missionaries who arrived in Lahaina in 1823 explained to the Hawaiian Royalty the importance of an educational institution. Lahainaluna Seminary was founded in 1831. It was the first school West of the Rockies and survives today as Lahaina’s public high school.
On July 11, 1851, “an Act relating to prisons, their government, and discipline” was passed by the Hawaii Legislature and approved by the King. It authorized a new jail for Lahaina which was to be constructed to “keep entirely separate from each other the male and female prisoners, and to have a yard enclosed by fences of sufficient height and strength to prevent escapes and also to prevent all access to, or communication by persons outside with any persons confined therein.”
Images and information courtesy of Lahaina Restoration Foundation