One of Lahaina’s hidden treasures is located off Luakini Street at the end of a shady lane. It is a distinctly New England style building with a belfry that was built with love and gratitude.
In the late 1820s, an adobe structure with ti-leaf thatched roof (called Hale La‘i) was erected as a school house and meeting hall. Then, members of Waine‘e (now Waiola) Church purchased lumber and with their own hands laid a wooden floor, made desks and seats for the school. Storms eventually destroyed the building.
Church members voted to replace the ruins with a stone and timber building to be called Hale Aloha (House of Love) in commemoration of Reverend Dr. Dwight Baldwin’s vaccination efforts that resulted in Maui escaping the smallpox epidemic, which decimated O‘ahu in 1853. Construction began in 1855 and the new building was finished in 1858.
From 1873 to 1892, Hale Aloha was leased to the government to be used for the Lahaina Union School. When the school outgrew the space and moved, the building fell into disrepair. In 1908, it was thoroughly repaired to be used as a parish hall for Waine‘e Church. It soon became known as the "finest hall in the famous sea-port town of Lahaina."
In 1951, strong Kauaula winds blew the roof off the belfry and the bell came down. By 1973, the building was roofless and floorless. Purchasing the land and earmarking funds from state and county coffers, the Maui County Planning Department and Historic Commission obtained a preservation grant from the Housing and Urban Development Department to restore the structure to its 1850s style. Plans and specifications were prepared by an architectural firm, and over the years leading up to 1985, Hale Aloha was restored structurally.
However, forty percent of the detailed restoration was incomplete. An agreement was reached between Maui County and Lahaina Restoration Foundation to complete Hale Aloha at the foundation’s own expense. An out-building with restrooms was finished in 1989 and restoration of Hale Aloha’s exterior stonework was completed in 1992.
Lahaina Restoration Foundation leases Hale Aloha to a local business.