homepage logo

Foundation to unearth 19th century kitchen at Baldwin Home Museum

By Staff | Mar 5, 2020

Etina Hafoka, docent at the Baldwin Home Museum, points out stones set in a row that are presumed to be the foundation of the adobe cook house located behind the mauka side of the historic Baldwin Home in Lahaina.

LAHAINA Permits in-hand and funding secured, the Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF) Baldwin Home Cook House Archeological “Dig” is slated to begin mid-March at its landmark location in the heart of the Historic District in downtown Lahaina on Front Street.

Built in 1834 of coral, sand and lava rock with timber frames, the Baldwin Home Museum then served as the residence of Rev. Dwight Baldwin, a practicing physician, and his family from 1836 to 1868.

Subsequently, the Fred Baldwin Estate deeded it to LRF in 1968, and, over the years, it has been restored to a mid-19th century classic, based on detailed research and archaeological authentication.

It is the oldest still standing house on the island and an archetypical representation of missionary life in a Hawaiian Village.

The 2020 dig extends beyond the footprint of the current structure, and it’s archeological approach is unique, with the LRF inviting the public to share in the thrill of discovery.

“Dig dates are from March 16 to 27, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public can participate screening the dirt that is removed,” LRF Executive Director Theo Morrison announced.

Morrison has been at the helm of the West Maui nonprofit since 2008.

Sitting at her desk on the second floor of the museum overlooking the town she loves, Morrison generates ideas, writes grants, networks, collaborates, researches and organizes festivals, fundraisers and activities.

“I visited the Mission Houses Museum on Oahu several years ago and loved their big kitchen which was inside the missionary home. I immediately realized that what was lacking at the Baldwin Home was any mention of a kitchen.

“Mrs. Baldwin had eight children, six survived, and many guests daily – sea captains, other missionaries, travelers, etc. I did not see how she could just have cooked outside over an open fire, which is what I had assumed,” she reasoned.

Discovery followed.

“I did extensive research and found numerous references to an adobe cookhouse. Further research revealed that Lahaina had hundreds of adobe buildings. I also found a letter from Dr. Baldwin requesting a stove from the mission board for his cookhouse,” the West Side leader advised.

Morrison surmised that the measurements on a Dr. Baldwin schematic of the residence verified that a long straight row of half submerged stones behind the house were exactly the same distance from the house as the adobe cookhouse.

“Thus the challenge of the grant,” Morrison explained, “is to verify, through archaeological excavation, that the Baldwin family’s cook house was located behind the Baldwin Home and built of adobe.”

Lead archeologist is Ian Bassford, Maui Island manager of Scientific Consultants Services Inc.

“If the archeological dig can provide evidence of the cookhouse, we would like, ultimately, to reconstruct the cookhouse, so it can become part of our home tour, which would provide another window into the daily life of the Baldwin family – the food they ate, how they cooked and stored it, etc.,” Morrison wrote.

For information, or to join the archeological adventure, contact LRF at 661-3262, e-mail info@lahainarestoration.org or visit www.lahainarestoration.org for information on Lahaina’s historic sites and upcoming events.