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Historical Lahaina Town

Once the capital Kingdom of the Hawaiian Islands, the Historical Town of Lahaina is located on the westside of Maui. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, clear blue skies, and a sizzling sun, Lahaina is a desired destination for many near and far. As it is an enjoyable place for many with the perfect weather all year round, it has gained a significant amount of tourism in the past thirty years. Lahaina translates to “Cruel Sun” hence the sunny weather every single day. Lahaina is known for its long history with King Kamehameha who has had a great significance over the land. Lahaina was once a huge fishing port for whalers which created the abundance of historical sites that all have relation towards a sea port and fishing. Lahaina begins in “Puamana” and ends in “Mala” covering about a 3.2 mile distance. In the Historical town of Lahaina is “Front Street” which is a row of local businesses and the remaining historical landmarks. “The present day Lahaina Front Street name came into effect the same time the royal capital was shifted to Honolulu. During the days of the Kamehamehas and especially after the arrival of missionaries on Maui in 1823, the streets had Hawaiian names. Front street was known as Alanui Moi, which translates to the Kings road. During the time of the first Kamehamehas, Lahaina was a village of 2400 people who lived in a series of fine grass houses along Alanui Moi. It stretched from the Mo’okuhinia Pond north to the neighborhood known today as Mala. Lahaina contains a multitude of significant historical sites including but not limiting to, Moku’ula, a present day baseball field that was once a Native Hawaiian island of fishing for royalty that stretched out to the ocean, a 300 year old “Banyan Tree”, a prison built in 1852 made of coral, a courthouse built in 1858 also made of coral, and the oldest missionary home to this day in Hawai’i from the 1850’s which is now called the Baldwin home museum. Although present day Lahaina town is filled with tourism, the history of Lahaina continues to heavily influence the way of life that takes place in this historical town.

Moku’ula is a one acre fishing island home to King Kamehameha the third, surrounded by a seventeen acre wetland pond. This royal island was connected to the mountains and the ocean. The fresh water received from the mountains helped create excellent soil for crops with the abundance of minerals. This Spring water would flow underneath the island which then created a wetland environment. This unique environment provided Native Hawaiians with an abundance of fresh water, plentiful fish in the ponds and “Kalo” or Taro that could be well grown in addition to other Hawaiian produce such as sugarcane. After King Kamehameha’s death, the site became a burial place for other royal members including the chiefess, Keopuolani who died in 1823, the King of Kauai, Kaumuali’i, and the governor of Maui, Wahine Pi’o, who died in 1824, along with other descendants from King Kamehameha. Although this royal island is covered by a present day baseball field called the Maluʻulu o Lele Park, the “mana” or “power” can be felt from the ancient bones and life that once took place. 

The Lahaina Banyan tree was planted for the fifty year celebration of the coming of missionaries to Hawaii in April of 1873 by the Lahaina sheriff, William Smith. Although it is of Indian origin, this tree remains of great significance to the community of Lahaina and currently is around 150 years old, over seventy feet, and stretches to almost an acre of length.

Hale Pa‘ahao, or the Lahaina Prison, built in the 1850’s out of coral and was created due to the foreigners and sailors who would visit, often not behaving. As Lahaina transitioned into a port for whaling, many sailors came through and would often become intoxicated and reckless and had to be detained. Because of their behavior, missionaries and town officials created an Act relating to prisons, their government, and discipline that passed through legislature and the king to allow imprisonment for both males and females separately. The prison injailement was used for a short period of time as sailors would come and go, often being bailed out by their captain within a day. The prison structure still remains to this day and is a site that can be visited by the public.

The Lahaina Courthouse directly behind the Old Lahaina Banyan Tree, was originally a fort that was destroyed. To this day, there are still coral blocks remaining from the demolished fort from 1854 that one is able to see when taking a stroll in that area. The courthouse was created with materials from King Kamehameha’s palace which was once destroyed by heavy winds and was reconstructed with coral. The courthouse building is two stories, contains a post office, a collectors office with a money vault, and an office for the island governor, sheriff and district attorney. 

The Baldwin home is the oldest missionary building still standing in all of Hawai’i. The missionaries wanted to help the Hawaiian people with education and God and therefore created Lahainaluna Highschool founded in 1831 as a Protestant missionary school. In 1835 Rev. Dwight Baldwin and his wife Charlotte arrived in Lahaina. “The Baldwins eventually had eight children and those who survived became important in Hawaii’s government and economy. Although Baldwin Rev. Dewight was a student of ministry, he also studied medicine and eventually became a doctor. By Dwight Baldwin becoming a doctor, he single handedly saved Maui from a smallpox epidemic which killed almost 6000 people on Oahu in 1853.” He set up a quarantine station in Mala which the government then created detention quarters. This saved the Natives of Hawaii as smallpox was deadly to people who had never experienced it, therefore having no immunity for such a disease. 

Front Street 1800’s https://www.google.com/search?q=lahaina+front+street+1800s&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjJj9yTw5zsAhWJhZ4KHWM5DCMQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=lahaina+front+street+1800s&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQA1CgeFjXiQFglIwBaABwAHgAgAGMAYgBxw2SAQQwLjEzmAEAoAEBqgELZ3dzLXdpei1pbWfAAQE&sclient=img&ei=5ZR6X4mJD4mL-gTj8rCYAg&bih=751&biw=1286#imgrc=V9WU5sR5BjQAfM

Lahaina Baldwin Home 1800’s


The Lahaina Banyan Tree



Works Cited:

“The Banyan Tree, Lahaina.” The Banyan Tree, Lahaina Maui, www.kaanapali-beach-maui.com/banyan-tree-lahaina.html.

“Front Street: Lahaina, Hawaii.” American Planning Association, www.planning.org/greatplaces/streets/2011/frontstreet.htm.

“Home.” Sacred Sites, www.sacred-sites.org/saved-sacred-sites/mokuula/.

Lahaina. “Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Preserving Maui's History.” Lahaina Restoration Foundation, 10 Mar. 2020, lahainarestoration.org/.

Maui Historical Society. “The Banyan Tree, Lahaina.” The Banyan Tree, Lahaina Maui, www.kaanapali-beach-maui.com/banyan-tree-lahaina.html.

“Mokuʻula.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Oct. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moku%CA%BBula.

Nickerson, Roy. Lahaina Royal Capital of Hawaii. Hawaiian Service, 1978.

“The Old Lahaina Courthouse.” Maui, www.mauileisureguide.com/attractions/old-lahaina-courthouse.htm. 


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