Bailey House Museum

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Photo:  Alvin Smith.

Photo: Alvin Smith.

Hawaii’s missionary era is well defined at the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku. Conveniently located on the way to ‘Iao Valley, the house is constructed of limestone coral, and built on land given to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1832 by Governor Ho’apili and King Kamehameha III.

The first Central Maui Mission Station was built here, with a view overlooking the natural harbor of Kahului.

Edward and Caroline Bailey sailed from Boston to Honolulu, arriving there in 1837. In 1840, they came to Maui to teach at the Wailuku Female Seminary, moving into the house that was to become their home for the next 45 years.

Edward Bailey was a renaissance man, an artist as well as a missionary, a teacher, builder, musician, writer, botanist and entrepreneur. His collection of oil paintings depicting the life around him provides museum visitors a visual image of what his life was like. Caroline Bailey was the mother of five sons. She created a home that combined the culture of two very different worlds. The seminary is gone, but you can almost hear the sound of children playing in the museum’s gardens with its displays of rare, indigenous plants.

The museum’s collection of pre-contact artifacts is one of the largest public collections on Maui, and shows the ingenuity of the Hawaiians in their use of the indigenous materials used in their daily lives. Upstairs, in what were once the family’s private quarters, are displays of everyday items, typical of things the Baileys may have used, such as household utensils, china, quilts and clothing. Many of the items are authentic, and traveled around Cape Horn as treasured mementos of another era.

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