Starting in the 1850s, labor shortages in the Islands were eased by bringing in contract workers from Asia, Europe and North America. The first to arrive were the Chinese (1852.) The sugar industry grew, so did the Chinese population; between 1852 and 1884, the population of Chinese in Hawai’i increased from 364 to 18,254 (almost a quarter of the population of the Kingdom (almost 30% of them were living in Honolulu)). Between 1869 and 1910 over thirty secret societies that have their roots in seventeenth century China were established in the Islands, six on Maui. These secret societies were formed to politically re-establish the deposed Ming dynasty.
These local clubs were mutual aid societies which met social and recreational needs of its members providing funeral services and burial, support in times of crisis, protective services and made contributions to their members. The Wo Hing Society – Wo, meaning “peace and harmony” and Hing, meaning “prosperity” was an important aspect of cultural and social life in Lāhainā for its immigrant Chinese. The society provided a fraternal structure which was a substitute for the absent family. In 1912, using private donations, the society built a 2-story temple on Front Street. It is believed that the present building replaced an earlier structure. In 1983, Lahaina Restoration Foundation took steps to restore this valuable site for Lāhainā and manages the site.