For the benefit of both our residents and visitors, and in cooperation with others we strive to faithfully restore, maintain and interpret the physical, historical, and cultural legacy of Lahaina, Maui, first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
The Seaman's Hospital

On July 16, 1798, in Philadelphia, at that time the nation’s capital, John Adams, second president of the United States, signed into law the Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen. This was the beginning of the Public Health Service in the United States. A year later the Act was extended to cover every officer and sailor in the U.S. Navy. By this Act, twenty cents each month was deducted from the wages of every merchant seaman. Unfortunately, it did not cover the seamen aboard whaling ships who were paid a share of the profits at the end of the voyage. Sick whalers in Lahaina were left in the care of American consuls and either cared for locally, shipped to hospitals in Honolulu or returned to the United States.

Finally in 1843, the U.S. Marine Hospital was built. During the following years the whaling industry peaked but faded by the time of the Civil War. On Sept. 10, 1862, the doors of the U.S. Seaman’s Hospital were officially closed. In 1864, it was leased as a boarding school. The property was traded in 1878 with the Bishop Estate, and in 1975, negotiations were finalized with the Bishop Estate, and the Seaman’s Hospital became the property of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

Arrangements were made with restoration architects to prepare measured drawings of the building and property for the purpose of preservation and restoration of the Seaman’s Hospital. Archaeological investigation was accomplished by a team from Bernice P. Bishop museum.

With careful and meticulous work, the building and adjacent plantation house were completely reconstructed in 1982 and continue to be successfully leased.

The report of the restoration architects is titled “Rendezvous in Lahaina” wherein they state, “While the stones and mortar of an old building have an intrinsic value and interest of their own, it is the many people who built and used them that give them real historical importance. In this respect, the Seaman’s Hospital has an unusually rich heritage. And so, we present a number of “Historical Vignettes” giving the stories of some of the fascinating people whose lives for a while were interlinked with the history of this building, and some of the events that we think make this building one of the most interesting in all of Hawaii.”