The formation of Kilauea Plantation on Kauai goes back to the 1860s when American settler Charles Titcomb bought the ahupua‘a of Kilauea from Kamehameha IV for about $3,000 and moved there from Hanalei in 1863.
He had been growing sugar in Hanalei, but gave it up and built a homestead and cattle ranch at Kilauea which grew into the town of Kilauea. He later bought the adjoining ahupua’a of Nāmāhāna.
Kilauea Plantation began in 1877 with the planting and purchasing of mill equipment. EP Adams and Robert A Macfie Jr. (son of a Liverpool sugar refiner) were majority investors. William Green and Sanford B. Dole (later governor of Hawai‘i) held minority
In 1880 the four men incorporated the Kilauea Sugar Company as a Hawai‘i corporation, just a few years after the Reciprocity
Treaty between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the U.S. created a boom in sugar plantation development. (MacLennan)
Plantation life throughout the islands was centered on a landscape of buildings that reflected the system of tight control over workers and production. Typically, beyond the fields and mill, there was a plantation store, housing, medical, recreational facilities for the workers.
Ethnic groups included Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean workers, and haole managers and supervisors. (MacLennan)
Lung Wah Chee was among the first group of Chinese immigrants that arrived on Kauai in 1876 to work for the Kilauea Sugar Company. He was born in Cheong Kong, China, September 15, 1860.
During 1894-1895 he had a contract with the Kilauea Sugar Company to load cane into cars with his own laborers. He was also required to furnish houses and firewood for the laborers. (NPS)
In the 1890s, Lung Wan Chee (aka LC Achee) operated a general merchandise store on the site of the Parish Hall (Japanese Language School) in Kilauea.
In 1902, Kilauea Sugar Plantation Co. decided to get out of the retail business and rented Chee their building; a bill of sale dated November 4, 1903, indicates that the plantation company sold to Kong Lung and Company a partnership for the sum of $8,534.29, including ‘all … the goods, wares and merchandise, stock-in-trade, show cases, scales, and Implements, in, upon and about the store.’ (NPS)
Later, Kong Lung Store moved into a former plantation building, it was the last of the stone structures built by the Kilauea Sugar Company. It was constructed around 1941 to replace an older wooden frame building at the same site.
The building measures 117-feet by 67-feet and is constructed of field stone up to the lower portion of the gable. The upper section is built of wood and has five ventilating jalousie windows at each end.
The store and the lanai are on a concrete slab. The front elevation is of five bays. The two end bays step forward, while the central three are an Inset lanai. The lanai has three stone piers which help to support the roof. Entrance to the store is through two screen doors.
The 1941 and later Kong Lung Store contained general merchandise, a barbershop, butcher shop, and post office. During the war, there was a lunch counter/diner to serve the many soldiers in the vicinity. Wages for store employees were about $40/month.
Workers for the store were said to have awoken at 2 am to work in the store. Then, at 5 am, they would go to work in the fields. Merchandise for the store arrived in the cane cars returning from Kahili Bay after delivering cane to freighters.
The raw sugar which was processed and bagged into 125 pounds at the mill was shipped to Honolulu by way of Kahili bay (or Kilauea Bay). The train hauled the sugar to Kahili then it was transferred on small boat then onto the Freighter which was anchored out in the bay.
The supplies for the Sugar Co and merchandise for Kong Lung Co. which was the only store in Kilauea at that time, came back by way of the empty cane cars. (Gushiken)
“Customers in the supermarket were plantation people. Groceries and dry goods, general hardware is what we went into. In those days, people were working six days a week, nine and ten hours a day. They would have no time for shopping. We had a delivery service then. No frozen goods.”
“The Sugar Plantation had its own dairy, between the store and the lighthouse. The slaughter was done there too. We had raw milk, no pasteurized. Everyone had their own vegetables, and rice was grown down in Kahili and Kalihiwai Valley and all the families made their own bread, raised their own chickens and pigs.” (Chow Lung, NOS)
The Store was managed by Kwai Chew ‘Chow’ Lung (son of the founder) and a partner. In 1955 they bought the building from the plantation and operated the business until 1979 when the property was sold to Tim King and Kelsy Maddox-Bell.