Remember. To preserve. Inspire.
Seventy years ago the Maui Historical Society was organized and incorporated with the mission of collecting, studying, and preserving Hawaiian historical records, especially those pertaining to Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, and Kaho ‘ olawe. Six years later, on July 6, 1957, the Historical Society opened Valley Isle’s first history museum, Hale Ho’ike’ike.
Now called Hale Ho’ike’ike at Bailey House, the museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built in 1833 as a mission house on the royal compound of Maui’s last ruling ruler, Kahekili, the structure later served as a boarding school for young women, then the residence of missionary / teacher / artist Edward Bailey and his family.
Today, the stewardship of the historical society includes over 8,000 historical photos, a 2,000-piece artefact collection, research library, and extensive archives including maps, manuscripts, genealogies, biographies. and other documents. On the museum grounds, the Chas Fisher Memorial Gardens display native Hawaiian plants that played an important role in Hawaiian culture, as well as non-native plants typical of the missionary era. The museum’s gift shop (which you can also access online) offers local crafts, books, music, and more.
Hale Ho’ike’ike occupies a valuable chapter of my own personal history, as I have shared several times in this space. Ten years ago, after attending the “A Bailey House Christmas” fundraiser I wrote:
âAs young children, my cousin Mark and I discovered the museum while exploring our neighborhood of Wailuku. A warm and wonderful Hawaiian woman – I think it was Aunt Hannah Lai – greeted us on our visits as if we were family, coming to spend the day with Grandma. This is also what I felt. Even though I couldn’t sit on the gorgeous peacock chair, nor take a nap on the hand-sewn Hawaiian quilt covering the four-poster bed, nor hold the porcelain doll with the spooky glass eyes, I still felt very. comfortable there. It was my personal playhouse, where I could live out my little girlish fantasies because of the time warp.
âDownstairs, aunt patiently answered my questions about the tools and weapons on display alongside the drawings and artefacts. It fed my imagination and fueled my fascination with Hawaiian history and culture …
âLast Saturday, as I walked into the Bailey House for the first time in over a decade, I had a Dickensian moment. Like Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past, I saw my 7 year old self, looking in a shop window, trying to count the strands of hair in the lei niho palaoa. Other visitors probably thought I was having an asthma attack, from the way I gasp and screech at every turn. It was all there: the dog-tooth necklaces, the faded pink kapa square, the living room spinning wheel, the ornate clock, the bed, the chair, all that. I was even happy to see the creepy doll, which didn’t look as creepy as I remembered it.
So I joined the Maui Historical Society. I have never been able to thank Aunt for having kindled this particular fire in me; I think the best I can do is pass it on.
A year or two after writing this column, I’m ashamed to admit it, I let the flame go out and I let my membership expire. But recently I came across another Hale Ho’ike’ike spark plug, Crystal Smythe, who is a volunteer assistant to the executive director of Sissy Lake Farm. Crystal mentioned that the historical society is set to launch a campaign to support Hale Ho’ike’ike at Bailey House as the organization, like almost everyone, strives to regain a foothold in the “New normal”. His passion rekindled my interest and I renewed my membership that afternoon.
The museum is currently open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; appointments for visits can be made online at mauimuseum.org. When you visit the website, be sure to watch the five-minute documentary on the impact and work of the historical society. You will also have the opportunity to donate or join us; annual memberships start at just $ 25.
We all have a stake in preserving Maui’s history; our collective history and heritage inform our future.
Remember. To preserve. Inspire.
* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM and KEWE 97.9 FM / 1240 AM), storyteller, actress, host and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every other Wednesday. His email address is [email protected]