The first capital of the kingdom of Hawai‘i, Lāhainā, was also once a bustling whaling town and plantation settlement. To recognize and preserve its rich history, two sets of historic districts have been created in Lāhainā.
The first, the Lāhainā Historic District encompassing about 1,665 acres, was added to the National Park Service’s (NPS) National Historic Landmarks Program in December 1962. Maui County Historic District Boundaries 1 and 2 cover about 65 acres in Lāhainā.
This summary highlights the nine structures that were identified in the Lāhainā Historic District (NPS;) the principal historic structures and sites still visible include the following.
Because these are also part of the Lāhainā Historic Trail, I am using the Lāhainā Restoration Foundation numbering for each – I will be adding to these sites over time and will end up with 62-Lahaina sites (these are the sites noted in the National Landmark Nomination form:)
14 – Court House
This solid, two-story stone building stands on Wharf Street, in the square bounded by Wharf, Hotel, Front and Canal Streets (on the site of the old stone fort.) The Court House Square is famed today for its banyan tree, planted by the sheriff of Lāhainā in 1873 and proclaimed today as ‘Hawaii’s largest.’
After an 1858 violent windstorm damaged government buildings here, a new ‘Lahaina Court and Custom House and Government Offices,’ was completes by December, 1859. In addition to the offices mentioned above, it contained the Governor’s office, post office and ‘a room in which to starve the jury into unanimity.’
16 – Pioneer Hotel
Built in 1901 and therefore not strictly connected with Lāhainā’s most significant era, this well-known hotel is nevertheless a key part of the Lāhainā scene (corner of Wharf and Hotel Streets.)
The description of the hotel in one guide book – ‘a large box of a building … with a wide balcony and decorative wooden railing’ – may be accurate, but it fails to convey the tropical atmosphere of Lāhainā’s first hotel.
18 – Old Spring House
The Old Spring House is said to have been built by the Rev. William Richards in 1823 to enclose a spring to supply water not only for his own dwelling nearby, but for the entire community and for ships anchored off the town.
According to local tradition, a hand pump here was visited by crews of sailors who ‘constantly rolled huge casks for water.’ The Spring House apparently is thus one of the few remaining physical links with the whaling era.
21 – Baldwin House
Completed early in 1835, Dr. Dwight Baldwin and his family occupied this two-story home, built of coral blocks, it until Dr. Baldwin was transferred to Honolulu in 1868 (some sources say the Baldwins lived in the house until 1871.) It is one of the oldest and best preserved missionary dwellings.
Dr. Baldwin, in addition to serving as pastor of the Hawaiian church at Lāhainā and, for a time, as seamen’s chaplain, was a medical doctor; and he was government physician for the islands of Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lāna‘i. Dr. Baldwin’s son, Henry P. Baldwin, was born in this house.
44 – United States Marine Hospital
Around 1842, this hospital was established for sick and injured American merchant seamen. The hospital could accommodate about 60 men; it’s on the landward side of Front Street, between Kenui and Baker Streets, about 0.6 mile north of the Baldwin House.
In 1865, the structure was sold to the Episcopal Church and became a school for girls, and during the 1870s it was turned into a vicarage and served as such for more than 30 years.
48 – Maria Lanakila First Catholic Church
The first resident Roman Catholic priests arrived at Lahaina on April 21, 1846. A church was built on the present site that same year, but it was replaced by a new structure in 1858 (Waine‘e and Dickenson Streets.)
The present concrete church, erected in 1927-1928, was built on the same foundation and is almost a replica of the older frame structure, it is said that the original ceiling was retained in the new building.
50 – Hale Aloha
The predecessor of this building, known as the Hale Halewai, or Hale Lai, is sometimes said to have been built as early as 1823; and it, instead of the Waine‘e Church, is occasionally claimed as the first stone church in the island (behind the Episcopal Cemetery in about the center of the large block bounded by Waine‘e, Hale and Chapel Streets and Prison Road.)
The meetinghouse was in bad condition by 1855 and the church voted to rebuild completely, the walls being ‘too old fashioned to be tolerated in these go-ahead days.’ The present building, called ‘Hale Aloha,’ was completed in 1858 and was ‘the largest sectional meeting house of its time.’ In 1860, the government fitted it out for use as an English Church.
53 – Old Prison (Hale Pa‘ahao)
In addition to ordinary criminals, the authorities at Lāhainā generally had on their hands a number of boisterous seamen who had run afoul of the law in one way or another during their periods of ‘refreshment’ ashore. During the 1830s and 1840s prisoners usually were confined in the fort which stood on the seaward side of the present square (see the Court House above.)
A new prison was started in 1852. The main cell block, built of planks, was constructed in that year, but the wall around the grounds, built of coral blocks from the old fort, was not erected until about 1854 (at the corner of Waine‘e Street and Prison Road.) Prisoners performed much of the labor.
56 -57 -Waine‘e Church and Cemetery (Waiola Cemetery and Church)
For several years after the American Board missionaries reached Lāhainā in 1823, services were held in temporary structures. In 1828 the chiefs, led by Hoapili, proposed to build a new stone church, and the present site was selected (on Waine‘e Street, between Chapel and Shaw Streets.)
The cornerstone was laid on September 14, 1828, for this “first stone meeting-house built at the Islands.” Dedicated on March 4, 1832, this large, two-story, galleried Waine‘e Church was twice destroyed by Kauaula winds and once, in 1894, by a fire of incendiary origin. The present church structure was dedicated in 1953, at which time the name was changed to Waiola.
The adjoining cemetery is said to date from 1823. It contains the body of Keōpūolani, wife of Kamehameha the Great and mother of Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III. Other prominent Hawaiian nobles interred here include Governor Hoapili, King Kaumuali‘i, Princess Nahi‘ena‘ena, Queen Kalākua and Governess Liliha.
I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.