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Thursday, November 20, 2014

The "A Trip to Lahaina" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking around the historic town of Lahaina, Maui.  This is our third time to visit the island of Maui and we never miss the chance to head to Lahaina for a meal, shopping or just exploring.  Lahaina is Maui's historic jewel and the old whaling capital of the Pacific in the mid-1800s is just a few miles from where we are staying at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.  Lahaina has restored many of its historic sites and today I walked the small town checking out many of the sites that are close to Lahaina's Front Street.  Today's story will show you a few of the restored buildings and give you some of the historical background that is pertinent to the building.  So follow with me as I do some exploring.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This Banyan tree on Front Street in Lahaina is the oldest in the state of Hawaii.  It was brought to the island in 1873 and when planted in it's current location, was only eight feet tall.  The the tree is said to stand 50 feet tall and span approximately 200 feet in length while covering about two-thirds of an acre.  It is immense and lovely to walk under.  Many people have autographed parts of some of the many trunks that have rooted over time.  It was sad to see all the homeless that have made the tree and the block in which it resides their home.  The stench of urine was hard to ignore as I walked under its huge limb structure.
This is the courthouse that is home to the Lahaina Arts Society, Banyan Tree Gallery, the Lahaina Heritage Museum  and the Visitor's Center.  It was built in 1859 after the fort (pictured below) had been destroyed.  At the time the courthouse served as a custom's house, post office, collector's office, office of the Governor, police office and a courtroom.
The Pioneer Inn and Theatre is one of the oldest hotels in Hawaii that is still in operation.    The theatre opened its doors in 1913 offering a Hollywood movie for 5 cents.  For a few cents more you could catch a Japanese movie on Monday nights.  The theatre had downstairs seating with an upstairs balcony and reserved seating.  There were no concessions.  The Pioneer Theatre was closed in 1965.  The current owner of the Inn is George "Keoki" Freeland who is preserving the memories of the plantation days when his father operated the movie house in the 1940s when thousands of sugar plantation camp residents visited the theatre.  The Pioneer Inn had been the background for the film "The Devil at 4 O'Clock" as well as TV shows Hawaii 5-0, Hawaiian Eye, Adventures in Paradise and Baywatch.  The Inn is still in operation and operates as a Best Western.  It captures the ambiance of the whaling days and the plantation era.  The Pioneer Bar and Grill is part of the structure.

The Fort on the Canal was built in 1831 out of coral blocks that were hewn by hand.  It once covered an area about the size of an acre with 20 foot high walls.  All that remains of it is pictured here which is along the waterfront.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.

The Rev. Dr. Dwight Baldwin and Charlotte Fowler were married in Connecticut the week after they met.    At the time they wanted to serve their church abroad and unmarried people could not go abroad together, so they married to accommodate the rules of the church.  They moved into this house in 1835 after it had been erected by the Rev. Ephraim Spaulding who was a missionary in Lahaina.  Dr. Baldwin was a Harvard educated physician as well as a minister in the Congregational Church.  The house was built with stone, coral and hand-hewn timbers.  The Baldwin family added a one-floor bedroom and study at the north end of the house in 1840.  It was here that six children were raised by the Baldwins.  They also lost two children in early childhood.  The house has been totally restored and is in beautiful shape.  The women in the window greeted me when I walked onto the porch.  The photo of the rear of the house shows both coral and stone being used in it's construction.

This is the prison also known as Hale Paahao.  It was built in 1852 during the reign of King Kamehameha III to lock up rowdy sailors who failed to return to their ships at sundown as well as unruly natives.  The surrounding coral wall was built in 1854 while the guard house and cells were completely rebuilt in 1959.  The prison sits about two blocks inland from Front Street.

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