Friday, March 1, 2013

Hale Pai • Lahaina's House of Printing

Map of Hawaii printed at Hale Pai in 1837
We just got back from Maui ... Aloha! I know what you are thinking ... sun, beaches, mai-tais, tropical flowers ... and all of it is true! But on this trip we did something a little different. My father's family settled in Lahaina in the 1880s, immigrants from Germany and Portugal. I have been on a quest to research and create a family history. So I wanted to visit some historical sites on the island. We checked out the Baldwin House and the Bailey House museums, as well as the Lahaina Courthouse where there is a display about my grand-uncle Arthur Waal, Lahaina's postmaster from 1898 to 1915, and his role in taking down and preserving the last Republic of Hawaii flag flown over Lahina back in 1898. (Hawaii became a US Territory that year.)
The last Republic of Hawaii flag flown over Lahaina 1898
The most interesting of the museums is Hale Pai, the House of Printing, located up the hill in Lahainaluna High School. It's small and takes about an hour or so to review, but it is worth it, especially if you love ephemera. You see, Hale Pai was the location of the first printing press on Maui back in 1837. Printing became part of the school curriculum. The school was known back then as Lahainaluna Seminary and is the oldest continuously operating school west of the Rockies.
Hale Pai printing museum
The Hale Pai press printed the first newspaper on Maui (actually, the first newspaper of any kind west of the Rocky Mountains), as well as the first paper currency in Hawaii (which was used for on campus transactions) and the first counterfeit money (created by some enterprising students).
Lahainaluna dollar bill printed at Hale Pai

Images of early Lahainaluna textbook pages, all printed at Hale Pai
The students also produced their own text books, local pamphlets, maps and art prints. At the Museum, Ken Kimura, who runs the museums for the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, can help you print your own copy of a front page of Ka Lama (The Torch), the school's newspaper, on the ancient press that is in the center of the room.
Ken Kimura at the old press
Early copy of Ka Lama Hawaii, Lahainaluna's newspaper printed at Hale Pai
The walls are covered with prints showing the output of Hale Pai. The main press room is set up with a display of printing paraphernalia, movable type, typeset frames, etc., along with a period printing press.
The print room at Hale Pai
Movable type and frames on display
Oh, and by the way, the view from up on the hill, looking down on the Town of Lahaina and across the channel at the island of Lanai, is absolutely spectacular.
Lahaina as seen from Lahainaluna (Maui) - Attributed to  Eliza Thurston (1807-1873) Copper-plate engraving by Kapohoni at Lahainaluna Seminary Press Lahaina (Hale Pai), Maui: Late 1830s
That same view today - Spectacular, to say the least!
For a nice article about Hale Pai, check out this issue of Maui Magazine. Also, Ho‘okuleana is an excellent blog about Hawaiian history.

Hale Pa'i Printing Museum is at Lahainaluna School at the top of Lahainaluna Road. The offices of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation are at 120 Dickenson Street, Lahaina, HI  96761.

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