Maui’s history includes a range of different architectural landmarks that may or may not be listed in guidebooks and tourist brochures. From Maui’s history as a sailor’s paradise to becoming a world-class agricultural player, architecture is also an important part of the Valley Isle’s past. Here are three landmarks that are more than just buildings, especially to locals.
The Pioneer Mill Smokestack
It was once the tallest structure in the state of Hawaii, used by fishermen and sailors to identify Lahaina, one of the islands that’s now part of Maui. For 139 years, the Pioneer Mill Smokestack was the inherent reminder of the backbone of West Maui’s economy based on sugar.
When the mill ceased operations in 1999, the entire mill was dismantled and demolished until it reached the smokestack. Kā‘anapali Land Management granted a lease of the smokestack to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, allowing it to be preserved and restored. The restoration took four months and cost $600,000, and was completed in 2010. Today, two restored locomotives are also on display with the smokestack, a reminder of the mode of transport until 1953.
Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum
Also called simply “The Sugar Museum,” this building is intended to “preserve and present the history and heritage of the sugar industry and the multiethnic plantation life which it engendered.”
Sugar and sugarcane’s history in Maui pre-date Hawaii’s US statehood. Although sugar ceased to be produced in Maui in 2016, its introduction to the Islands dates back to 600 AD and became a full-fledged industry after 1802.
The museum itself is housed in the former manager’s home at Puʻunēnē Mill. The museum’s archives contain a large number of various artifacts, including maps, periodicals, photographs, employment records, books, audio/visuals, and objects such as household items, clothes, and other textiles, store fixtures, and operational equipment.
The Bailey House Museum
Although its formal name is Hale Hōʻikeʻike, The Bailey House Museum is operated by the Maui Historical Society. It’s known as the residence of the last ruling chief of Maui, Kahekili II (c. 1737–1794.) From its beginnings as a school and seminary to a sugar plantation with a church, its WWII contribution as the Maui headquarters for the Office of Civilian Defense, and its eventual home for the Maui Historical Society, The Bailey House Museum hosts a wide collection of Maui and Hawaiian history.
The Museum features over 2,000 artifacts, more than 8,000 photographs, archives featuring maps, manuscripts, and other documentation, a research library, and multiple exhibits that offer glimpses into different points in Maui’s history. You can also take a virtual tour with the Bailey House mobile app.
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