A PLACE WHERE KAMEHAMEHA I, KAMEHAMEHA III AND QUEEN KA”AHUMANUHISTORY MADE HISTORY
The front lawn of the Lahaina Public Library where kings and queens once walked, worked and reigned deserves better. In the heart of Lahaina’s historic district that for 25 years was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the lawn was once a kalo (taro) patch tended by royalty. The Maui Friends of the Library (MFOL) with the help of the community plans to adorn this land once again with trees and kalo that well could have been present almost 200 years ago.
The goal is to beautify the site by showcasing native plants or those brought to the islands that have played an important part in the culture and to acquaint thousands of passing visitors and residents with the story of the Hawaiian people in Lahaina.
The Landscaping Project is the culmination of a 5-year initiative spearheaded by the Maui Friends of the Library, with help from the Rotary Club of Lahaina. This project started with the $300,000 renovation of the interior of the building itself where volunteers and contractors provided all new flooring, bookcases, desks, computers, and fresh paint on all the walls inside and out. Now comes the final phase, re-landscaping the lawn.
Yesteryear, in a garden like setting amid cultivated fields fed by mountain streams, King Kamehameha I and later Kings built a foundation for one of the most progressive monarchies the world had ever seen–the Kingdom of Hawaii. Lahaina became the capital of the monarchy. The great King stood in this place where the Library sits, prostrated himself before commoners to show his respect for them, and tended his Royal Taro Patch. Queen Ka’ahumanu lived on this spot and reigned as regent.
Near this spot, Kamehameha III and missionaries wrote the constitution that served the monarchy until its overthrow in 1893.
From land where the Library sits, hundreds of anchored whaling ships made Lahaina one of the most important provisioning ports in the world. Within view of the present Library lawn, the Lahaina postmaster lowered the Hawaiian flag and replaced it with the stars and stripes which flew over the territory and now the state of Hawaii.
In 1901, George Freeland built Lahaina’s first hotel on the left portion of the rectangular site toward Front and Wharf Streets that lead directly to the harbor
In 1957, two years before statehood, the community and territory built the present Library a rectangular plot halfway between the ocean and Front Street.