If you're looking for a family activity that doesn't include slathering on sunscreen or sand between your toes, the Bailey House Museum is your ticket to some historical fun!
The History of the Bailey House Museum
Constructed in 1833, this lava rock and koa wood structure was built at the bottom of Iao Valley. This location is the former royal compound of Kahekili II, who was the last ruling chief of Maui. This house was originally meant to be a mission for adults and children, however, in 1837, it was transformed into the Wailuku Female Seminary. This boarding school was known for teaching their students Christianity, domestic skills like sewing and housekeeping. Their academic undertaking included the three R's, which are reading, writing and arithmetic.
Reverend Jonathan Smith Green and Theodora were the managers of the establishment, and in 1844, Missionary teachers Caroline and Edward Bailey took over shortly after they arrived in Hawaii. Since this was one of the first western-style houses in Wailuku, the “Old Bailey House” is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Edward Bailey and his family stayed in this house until 1888. The Bailey House opened its doors as a museum in 1957.
What the Bailey House Museum Offers Today
The Maui Historical Society lovingly runs the Bailey House Museum. Some also know this house by its Hawaiian name, Hale Hoikeike, which mean House of Display. When vacationers go to visit this house, they can find anything from Pre-European Hawaiʻian artifacts to 19th century paintings by Edward Bailey.
Here you'll find utensils, tools and weapons that date back to Pre-European contact. Many of Edward Bailey's landscape paintings are shown here, totaling over 100 oil paintings. One of the prized possessions is the only wooden statue on Maui that remains after the 1819 purge of the indigenous religion. The Hawaiian demigod, Kamapua'a, was built before annulment of native Hawaiian religious art. It was hidden in an upcountry cave for over a century, which makes this statue a highlight at the Bailey House Museum. There is also a snail and mollusk collection, and a replica of an ancient Polynesian-style sailing vessel, modeled after the Hokulea.
The second floor is designed to represent a house in the early 19th century in Hawaii. Each room showcases the furniture and belongings that were common, letting each visitor step back in time and appreciate the history of this residence. There are also a great deal of historical papers available for anyone interested, researchers and visitors alike.
The gardens are reason enough to come visit the Bailey House Museum. Rolling with native Hawaiian plants, including a few endangered species, this lovely property is a perfect photo opportunity. The garden is also home to plants that were typical of the missionary era. There is also a 22-foot Honaunau, which is a outrigger canoe from the 1900s. Carved out of a single koa log, this fishing canoe is one of the last boats of its kind to be made in Hawaii. And check out Duke Kahanamoku's 1919 redwood surfboard, which you'll find displayed in an outlaying shelter on the property.
Make sure to finish up your tour with a visit to the Museum Gift Shop. Located on the south of the Old Bailey House, you'll find locally handcrafted artisan items and books on Hawaii and its history. You'll find tropical wedding presents, Maui coffee, soap and Hawaiian sea salts to take home as a souvenir.
Bailey House Museum (808-244-3326) is located at 2375 Main Street in Wailuku and is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 to 4. From Kahului follow Kaahumanu Hwy. (Hwy. 32) west from Kahului toward Wailuku. The road becomes Hwy. 320 and you will see Bailey House Museum on the left just after Kehalani Parkway.
If you're looking for a unique Maui activity, the Bailey House Museum is a great place to start!
All photography was either taken by Mill House staff, from owners that have given us written permission, and/or purchased for use. We have all the rights necessary to use these images on our website.