GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Bailey House Museum in Wailuku, Maui, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Museum Executive Director Roslyn Lightfoot describes how the organization is working to preserve Maui County history.
Hawaii history fills Maui’s Bailey House
The Wailuku museum is preparing for its 50th anniversary
WAILUKU » A surfboard once owned by Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, artifacts from Kahoolawe and a collection of more than 8,000 photographs of Maui County are among the pieces that have been preserved at the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku.
"The history is here. If residents don't have time to look at it now, it'll be here later for them or their descendants," said Roslyn Lightfoot, the museum's executive director.
This year, the museum celebrates its 50th anniversary as a repository for Maui County's history.
The museum, operated by the Maui Historical Society, is scheduled to hold its 50th-anniversary celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 18.
The museum grounds were once a part of the royal compound of Chief Kahekili (1713-1794), who ruled Maui, Molokai and Oahu, and later became the site of the Wailuku Female Seminary between 1837 and 1849.
A succession of owners purchased the property, including the missionary teacher Edward Bailey, who was a sugar grower and landscape painter, and the late land developer Pundy Yokouchi.
Yokouchi donated the property to the museum in 1992.
Lightfoot said part of the two-story building preserving and displaying the collection was once a cooking house for the seminary, and another part, a sitting room and quarters for missionary teachers.
COURTESY BAILEY HOUSE MUSEUM
Edward Bailey's landscape paintings are among the pieces preserved at the museum.
The original structure was constructed mainly of lava rock, limestone mortar and hand-hewn beams from an ohia tree -- portions of which remain embedded in the existing building.
A garden on the museum's grounds features the kind of plants used to make native materials prior to Western contact.
Lightfoot said in its early days when Maui was rural, the museum served as a major site for social gatherings.
Its predecessor, the Royal Historical Society, was founded at Lahainaluna in 1841 with King Kamehameha III as its president and native Hawaiian historian Samuel Kamakau as treasurer but went out of existence after the kingdom's capital in Lahaina moved to Honolulu.
Lightfoot said the museum has more than 1,500 Hawaiian and missionary era artifacts, including 19th-century paintings of Maui by Bailey.
Artist Duane Preble, a great-great-grandson of Bailey, said the museum keeps alive important information about the turmoil of native culture during a period of change.
Preble, a University of Hawaii professor emeritus, said the museum also has visual record of the beauty of Maui through Bailey's landscapes.
Museum officials also are the curators of artifacts retrieved from Kahoolawe during the archaeological digs performed prior to the U.S. Navy relinquishing control to the state.
Lightfoot said the artifacts will eventually be returned to the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, once a repository is established on the former Navy-controlled island.
The museum has also been involved in restoring pieces and improving displays, such as providing a protective case for Kahanamoku's surfboard and restoring paintings by Bailey.
Museum officials have also developed new products for the gift shop, including Bailey's paintings on note cards and porcelain tiles, and a new poster of the Wailuku Female Seminary.