By 1841, Joaquin Armas, a Mexican cowboy who was hired as the “King’s bullock catcher,” became landlord of this property in exchange for his services of rounding up cattle that freely roamed the island. The King was able to make a handsome profit from cattle by selling the meat and hides to the visiting whalers as they reprovisioned their ships.
In 1844, the structure was leased to the United States to serve as a hospital for sick and injured seamen, particularly whalers who flocked to these shores until 1860. There was scandalous talk in those days about the doctors collecting fees from the government for patients long since buried. An investigation of those charges was made in 1859, but no official action was taken. When the whaling industry declined during the Civil War, the U.S. Seamen’s Hospital officially closed on September 10, 1862.
The building was leased as a boarding school in 1864, then in 1878, the Bishop Estate took ownership. It has also been used as a private home and a meeting room for civic groups. Today, the property is leased for business use.