“A College will shortly be opened for Hawaiian Girls, under the patronage of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Emma. Lady Superintendant, Mrs George Mason. Besides and ordinary English education, instruction will be given in Industrial work.”
“Application for the admission of Boarders and for terms, to be made to Mrs Mason, at the Parsonage, Kukui Street. Also, there will be opened shortly a Collegiate Grammar School, for Young Gentlemen (it started as St Albans, later, Iolani).”
“Instruction will be given in Latin, Greek, Euclid and Algebra, as well as in the usual branches of English education.” (Polynesian, November 8, 1862)
In January 1864, the Female Industrial Seminary was transferred to Lahaina; the Reverend Mother Lydia Sellon arrived in Hawai‘i in late-1864 and took charge of the school. By then, the school had 25-boarders and about 40-day girls; it was renamed St Cross school for girls (St Cross Seminary) (Kanahele).
The school was operated by three religious Sisters of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity, Devonport, England (the Devonport Sisters), the first of the Religious Orders re-founded in the Church of England after the Reformation.
“Lahaina was a great whaling port during the (eighteen) sixties, for as many as eighty or ninety whaleships were at one time anchored in the offing. Sailors crowded the streets of Lahaina, and people came from far and wide to see them.”
“Many even from Molokai were tempted to change their residences to Lahaina, just for the purpose of seeing the crowds of whaling men pass through the streets, and many of the young girls of those days, and many of the married women even, were parted from their parents and from their husbands just for the novelty of being in the company of seafaring men.”
“In 1860 the present Lahaina stone court house was built. It served the dual purposes of both court house and custom house, and the collector of customs did a thriving business during those whaling days. The Queen’s Hospital was started at Honolulu in the same year.”
“The St. Cross Hospital, built in 1865 by the Episcopal Mission, which was also used as an industrial girls’ school, flourished for some years at Lahaina, and the old stone building is still standing …” (Keola; Mid-Pacific Magazine, December 1915)
In 1873 Isabella Bird visited “the industrial training and boarding school for girls, taught and superintended by two English ladies of Miss Sellon’s sisterhood, Sisters Mary Clara and Phoebe”.
“She notes, “I found it buried under the shade of the finest candlenut trees I have yet seen. A rude wooden cross in front is a touching and fitting emblem of the Saviour, for whom these pious women have sacrificed friends, sympathy, and the social intercourse and amenities which are within daily reach of our workers at home.”
“The large house, which is either plastered stone or adobe, contains the dormitories, visitors’ room, and oratory, and three houses at the back; all densely shaded, are used as schoolroom, cook-house, laundry, and refectory.“
“There is a playground under some fine tamarind trees, and an adobe wall encloses, without secluding, the whole. The visitors’ room is about twelve feet by eight feet, very bare, with a deal table and three chairs in it, but it was vacant …”
“… and I crossed to the large, shady, airy, school-room, where I found the senior sister engaged in teaching, while the junior was busy in the cook-house.”
“These ladies in eight years have never left Lahaina. Other people may think it necessary to leave its broiling heat, and seek health and recreation on the mountains, but their work has left them no leisure, and their zeal no desire, for a holiday.”
“A very solid, careful English education is given here, as well as a thorough training in all housewifely arts, and in the more important matters of modest dress and deportment, and propriety in language.
“There are thirty-seven boarders, native and half-native, and mixed native and Chinese, between the ages of four and eighteen. They provide their own clothes, beds, and bedding, and I think pay forty dollars a year. The capitation grant from Government
for two years was $2325.”
“Sister Phoebe was my cicerone, and l owe her one of the pleasantest days I have spent on the islands. The elder sister is in middle life, but though fragile-looking, has a pure complexion and a lovely countenance …”
“… the younger is scarcely middle-aged, one of the brightest, bonniest, sweetest-looking women I ever saw, with fun dancing in her eyes and round the corners of her mouth …”
“… yet the regnant expression on both faces was serenity, as though they had attained to ‘the love which looketh kindly, and the wisdom which looketh soberly on all things.’”
“I never saw such a mirthful-looking set of girls. Some were cooking the dinner, some ironing, others reading English aloud; but each occupation seemed a pastime, and whenever they spoke to the Sisters they clung about them as if they were their mothers.”
“I heard them read the Bible and an historical lesson, as well as play on a piano and sing, and they wrote some very difficult passages from dictation without any errors, and in a flowing, legible handwriting that I am disposed to envy.”
“Their accent and intonation were pleasing, and there was a briskness and emulation about their style of answering questions, rarely found in country schools with us, significant of intelligence and good teaching. All but the younger girls spoke English as fluently as Hawaiian.”
“I cannot convey a notion of the blithesomeness and independence of manner of these children. To say that they were free and easy would be wrong; it was rather the manner of very frolicksome daughters to very indulgent mothers or aunts. It was a family manner rather than a school manner, and the rule is obviously one of love.”
“The Sisters are very wise in adapting their discipline to the native character and circumstances. The rigidity which is customary in similar institutions at home would be out of place, as well as fatal here, and would ultimately lead to a rebound of a most injurious description.”
“Strict obedience is of course required, but the rules are few and lenient, and there is no more pressure of discipline than in a well-ordered family.” (Bird)
St. Cross provided the opportunity for the establishment of an enduring educational work for girls by the Society of the Holy Trinity. This venture proving successful, the Sisterhood presently opened a similar school – St. Andrew’s Priory – for which a site on the Cathedral property in Honolulu was granted. (Anglican History)
Despite the dedication of the Sisters and the support of the queen, St Cross was forced to close its doors in 1884 for lack of students. (Kanahele)
It was thereupon proposed that the two Sisters in charge should return to England; but they were so devoted to their task that they begged to be allowed to remain in Honolulu, depending upon such support as they themselves could secure.
Their plea was heeded and they continued in charge of the Priory until the transfer of jurisdiction to the American Church. (Anglican History)