Baldwin Home Museum Maui.


Baldwin Home, the oldest house still surviving on the island of Maui, is a well known landmark in the heart of historic Lahaina, where it was built in 1850. Between 1834 and 1835, Reverend Ephraim Spaulding constructed a four room, single story structure in what was then known as the “missionary compound.” The structure has since been demolished. This location provided a direct view of the Lahaina landing and roadstead, which was beyond where the whaling ships would anchor for the night.

The mansion was occupied by a sort of doctor activist, Reverend Dwight Baldwin and his family, who (beforehand) was been living in a grass hale (hut) at the Baldwin home, when Reverend Spaulding grew ill and departed to Massachusetts in 1836… and the beginning of the legacy of a Maui pioneer was established. At the time of their departure, Baldwin and his wife Charlotte Fowler were newlyweds and proceeded on a six month cruise that took them from New England across South America’s Cape Horn to the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. They were the first to arrive to Hawai’i Island, on the island of Maui, in 1835. Eight kids were born into the family, all of them were born in Hawai’i, albeit two of them died of dysentery before they reached the age of three years old.

They kept expanding their home. Adding a bedroom and medical study in 1840, and finishing the second floor in 1849, the building became what you see today. The house is built with 24 inch thick walls (made of coral, sand, and lava rock with rough hewn timber frame) and high ceilings to take advantage of the prevailing ocean winds. The house has huge windows in the front and is surrounded by a wall of coral, sand, and lava rock.

The presence of the kitchen’s foundation and a firepit in the rear yard provide a glimpse into the extent to which the family relied on the outdoors for everything from cooking to bathing to washing dishes and clothes to gardening and rearing farm animals to raising their children. It should be noted that there was no indoor plumbing back then. The landscaping in this compound comprised kukui and kou trees, as well as bananas, breadfruit, figs, and a grape arbor, among other things. The residence, which was surrounded by a freshwater stream and adjacent to an artesian well, was self sufficient.

A busy and colorful life was lived by the Baldwins at Lahaina, where they welcomed weary visitors and ship captains to stay as overnight guests in their home. They often received members of Hawai‘i’s royal court and visiting consuls in their home, which was always a bustling center of activity. Rev. and Mrs. Baldwin lived in Lahaina until 1868, when they relocated to Oahu in order to be closer to their daughter. Charlotte Baldwin died at the age of 67 years and Dwight Baldwin lived until the ripe old age of 88 years.

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