In 1879, Father Damien established a home at Kalawao for boys and elderly men. In 1886, Father Damien had some twenty or thirty of the patients in a little cluster of shanties and cabins scattered around his house.
Ira Barnes Dutton read about the work of Father Damien and he sought to help Damien on Molokai – “to do some good for my neighbor and at the same time make it my penitentiary in doing penance for my sins and errors.” From San Francisco, he sailed for Molokai. (McNamara)
When he arrived on July 29, 1886, although he never took religious vows, he became known as “Brother Joseph” and “Brother Dutton,” “brother to everybody.” (McNamara)
Father Damien’s home for boys at Kalawao had always been one of the most important facilities at the settlement and a project very dear to his heart. After Brother Dutton’s arrival, most of the work of the home fell to him, which consisted of providing leadership and discipline, medical treatment, and food and clothing.
“In 1887 (the Home) began to spread, and we built two houses of considerable size. This enlargement was sufficient as to capacity up to 1890 – in fact, we had to do with it until May, 1894. … It also housed some women and girls.” (Dutton)
On January 1, 1889, the Damien Home was accepted as an official reality by the Board of Health and operated as a home under the management of Father Damien.
After Damien’s death (April 15, 1889,) the Board of Health placed Mother Marianne in charge of the home, and provided a horse and carriage for the sisters to use in traveling between Kalaupapa and Kalawao. (Mother Marianne and the Sisters were operating the Charles R Bishop Home for Unprotected Leper Girls and Women that was constructed in 1888 at Kalaupapa.)
On May 22, 1889, Sisters Crescentia and Irene arrived at Kalaupapa from Kaka‘ako to help at the Boys’ Home. While the sisters generally supervised the domestic operations, such as sewing and housekeeping, Dutton was expected to be disciplinarian and leader.
He, however, concentrated mostly on keeping the accounts, attending to correspondence and general business affairs, handling the sore dressing, and attending the sick at the home and in the Kalawao hospital.
(Most of Brother Dutton’s work, however, would eventually revolve around the Baldwin Home for Boys, an enlargement of Father Damien’s Boys’ Home, and it was there that he probably made his most valuable and lasting contribution. (Greene, NPS))
By 1899, one of the chief features of Kalawao was the garden attached to the home – a banana plantation with several acres of vegetables. Vegetation at the home became quite lush through the years.
In his memoirs, Dutton described bushy masses of countless Croton plants – actually small trees – back of the garden and all around the sides. The variegated foliage gave the home the appearance of being set in a big, red bouquet.
By late spring 1890, the first official Home for Boys at Kalawao was completed. On May 15, Sister Crescentia (Directress), Sister Renata, and Sister Vincent moved into the new Convent of Our Lady of Mercy at Kalawao and assumed charge of the home.
Its purpose, decided upon in discussions among William O Smith, president of the Board of Health, Brother Dutton, and Baldwin, was to assist the men of the colony, make them comfortable, provide some recreation, and generally help them make the most out of their lives.
In 1892, funds were given to the board by Henry P Baldwin, Protestant sugar planter, financier and philanthropist of missionary stock, for the erection of four separate buildings to comprise the Baldwin Home for Leprous Boys and Men at Kalawao.
The new home was occupied during the first week of May 1894. The complex consisted of twenty-nine separate structures, most new, but some moved across the street from the grounds of St. Philomena.
In the dormitories the smaller boys were at the lower end on the right side in front of the tailor shop. Advancing up the hill, the residents increased in age and size to the recreation hall. On the other side were full grown men, gradually increasing in age so that the two lower dormitories housed the old and helpless.
From there they were moved to the house for the dead, near the church, just below the singing house. Below the two dorms for old and helpless patients was the office, containing the stock of drugs and a storage room for drugs, surplus small materials, and tools, opening into the shoe shop, saddle room, and Dutton’s bathroom.
The bathhouse and sore dressing rooms connected with the office by ten-foot-wide verandahs. The verandahs, with long benches lining the sides, were used for playing games and musical instruments and for perusing magazines and books.
Under one roof were the poi house, boiler house, beef room, pantry, and banana room. Nearby were a dining room, kitchen, woodshed and coal room, a lime and cement room, and a slop house. The storage house, for provisions and housekeeping articles, fronted on the road.
While the institution was primarily for the housing and care of boys, regulations were passed later by the Board of Health which permitted the entrance, when room was available, of older patients who desired to live there, although only males were allowed.
The Baldwin Home was to be a retreat at all times open to leprous boys and to men who, through the progress of the disease or some other cause, had become helpless.
All boys arriving at the settlement under the age of eighteen, unless in the care of their parents or guardians or near relatives who would watch over them, were to enter the home until reaching eighteen, when they could leave with permission of the superintendent.
The patients were given clothing, food, care, and medical attention, and in return were expected to work about the establishment.
By the time the home was finished, the general movement of people toward Kalaupapa had already begun. This was a slow process, actually beginning in the 1880s.
Because of the disciplinary problems involved in running a home full of active boys, it was decided that a group of strong Christian men should be put in charge.
On December 1, 1895, the Catholic sisters were relieved of duty at the home by the arrival of four Sacred Hearts brothers, who were placed under the direction of Brother Dutton. (Greene, NPS)
According to Dutton, it was not until 1902 that all the patients at Kalawao, except for those in the Baldwin Home, had moved to the other side of the peninsula. As originally built and expanded upon, the home consisted of forty-five buildings, mostly dormitories.
Buildings in the complex by the early 1930s numbered about fifty-five, including small structures such as the ash and oil houses. The brothers’ house (formerly lived in by the Catholic sisters) was the best constructed, with a fine yard in front, on the road nearly opposite the singing house (fashioned from Damien’s old two-story house).
In 1932, the ice plant and airport at Kalaupapa were completed and a new hospital opened. The old Kalaupapa general hospital was converted to the new Baldwin Home, after the old home at Kalawao burned down.
This completed the transfer of patients to the Kalaupapa side of the peninsula. In 1950, the Baldwin Home for Men and Boys merged with the Bay View Home. (Bay View Home, first established in 1901, served as a group home for older, disabled, and blind residents. Patients at Bay View shared meals in a central dining room, and received round-the-clock nursing care.)