Baldwin Home Museum, on the corner of Dickenson and Front Streets, has been a Lahaina landmark for nearly two centuries. Many who visit the historic home enjoy the serene beauty of its front yard garden and have often asked, “How old is that grapevine?”
Recently, Lahaina resident and co-owner of Mama’s Fish House Restaurant Doris Christenson recounted the story of how the grapevine and arbor came to be. In the late 1960s, after the Baldwin heirs deeded the home in 1967 to Lahaina Restoration Foundation, loyal supporters, Floyd and Doris Christenson, procured plans for building a grape arbor from a relative in St. Helena, California. They researched the varieties of grapes most likely grown by the Baldwins in the mid-19th century and determined that the Isabella grape should be planted since it does well in a tropical zone and at low elevations. Doris started the vines at her home and planted eight of them on the homesite around the new arbor. Two of those vines remain, which are 50 years old!
When Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF) volunteer, Pam McCabe, inspected the grape arbor, she noted that the existing vines could use some new plantings so she found out where they originated and contacted Mrs. Christenson in Lahaina. Mrs. Christenson kindly agreed to donate additional Isabella grapevines from the original stock cultivated at her Lahaina home. Six new plants arrived at Baldwin Home Museum with Doris Christenson where she, LRF Head Groudskeeper Clifford Corniel and Pam McCabe planted them around the grape arbor that can be seen from Front Street.
Theo Morrison, executive director of Lahaina Restoration Foundation noted, “Doris is a wonderful example of how members of our community can help maintain the historic integrity of Lahaina. She took the initiative to research which grapes the Baldwins planted when they lived in the home in the 19th century, and cultivated those grapes for replanting at Baldwin Home. We are very grateful for her contribution to Lahaina’s history.”
To become a friend of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and show your passion for Lahaina’s history, go to our Donate page.