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Maui: Baldwin House, Part 1

History abounds in Lahaina, none more significant than the Baldwin House, which is the oldest house still standing on Maui. The original single-story home was built by Reverend Ephraim Spaulding around 1834-35. The surrounding area was called "The Missionary Compound" for reasons that are easy to guess. In 1836, Rev. Spaulding became ill and returned to Massachusetts. Reverend Dwight Baldwin and his family moved into the house, vacating the grass hut that had previously served as their home in the compound.

As his family grew, the house was expanded to include the wing to the left, providing a bedroom and a medical office for Rev. Baldwin who was also a physician by training. Later a second story was added.

With the influx of whaling ships and their crews, the town fathers decided that a facility was needed to house a meeting room for the captains and a reading room for the literate sailors. A site right next to the Baldwin House was selected and construction was completed in the 1830s, financed by both the seaman and the missionaries.

The Masters' Reading Room, like the Baldwin House itself, was restored by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and is still in use today — the ground floor houses an art gallery and the second floor is used for meetings of the Foundation.

Reverend Dwight Baldwin, graduate of Harvard College’s Medical School and Auburn Seminary. As Lahaina’s minister, he also served the islands of Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and Maui as government physician, dentist and veterinarian.

His wife, Charlotte Baldwin, mother of eight children and teacher (children’s lessons and women’s sewing classes at home).

Before the days of stereos, Walkmen and iPods, people had to entertain themselves. This piano would have been an expensive instrument at the time but could also serve for practice of religious songs.

The house contains many original artifacts and period furniture — here a cabinet with serving pieces and other household items.

In Rev. Baldwin's office, is his library of medical books and other reference material.

Patients requiring assistance could use this wheelchair.

On display are a number of Rev. Baldwin's medical instruments (or ones similar to what he would have used).

Surgical Saw - "For cutting bone, circa mid-1800s"

Folding Scalpel - "For making incisions, circa mid-1800s"

Suturing Tools - "For sewing up a wound, circa mid-1800s"

Tenaculum - "For seizing and holding parts, such as blood vessels, circa mid-1800s"

Surgical Chisel - "Bone shaping, circa mid-1800s"

Thermometers - "Measuring body temperature, circa mid-1800s"

There was no Longs Drugs in Lahaina at the time and Rev. Baldwin had to maintain his own stock of medications.

I found it quite interesting to see this stand for a large reference book, which provides support for an open book which would have been inconvenient to read on a flat surface and impossible to hold by hand. Now we might use an iPad for the same function.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com