As whaling ships, with their officers, mates and crew, began to arrive in droves and anchor in the calm roadstead of Lahaina to reprovision, town officials saw the need for ship captains to have a meeting room. So in June of 1833, Lahaina missionaries resolved to build a reading room, or gentlemen’s club retreat. They would stock it with publications, newspapers and writing materials so officers from ships could catch up on news and record in their logs.
The American Mission agreed to contribute $200 and asked the public for additional support. A written request, co-signed by Reverends Richards and Spaulding, was presented to visitors, asking for gifts of any kind to further the endeavor. Some of the whalers offered money, but many donated gifts such as a looking glass, pitcher, soap, chairs, planks and a spyglass.
The most lucrative gifts were bolts of cloth and barrels of whale oil. While the oil was sold to light the lamps of Lahaina, western cloth was used to pay for labor. These two commodities alone contributed $534.50 to the project with a length of fabric (30 yards) valued at $7.50 and a barrel of whale oil at $15. Soon, construction began in the missionary compound.