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 Wo Hing Museum

Chinese history in Lahaina predates the whalers and missionaries. With the passage of years, the Chinese community grew. True to their heritage, they maintained social and political ties with their ancestral homes. They built meeting halls or temples where their societies could meet. In 1909 the Chinese living in Lahaina formed the Wo Hing Society, a branch of the Chee Kung Tong, a fraternal society with chapters throughout the world. In 1912, using private donations, the society built a two-story temple on Front Street. The building served as a fraternal and social meeting hall. It housed a sacred altar room on the second floor for religious ceremonies.

By the 1940’s, most Chinese had moved to the island of Oahu where they found better business opportunities. As the Chinese population on Maui declined the temple fell into disrepair. Paint faded on the once festively decorated porches; the grounds became overgrown with weeds, and eventually the building was boarded up. For years, it was a forlorn sight, weathered by time and eaten by termites until it was near the point of collapse. A small core of Wo Hing Society members still resided in Lahaina, but too few in number to maintain the temple.

In 1983, the Lahaina Restoration foundation took steps to restore this valuable historic site. Under a long-term agreement with the Wo Hing Society, the Foundation provided the money and people to bring the temple back to life and operate it as a museum.

Upon entering, one is greeted by a ceremonial lion – the “Dancing Lion of Taipei” – a traditional symbol of good luck. The altar in the shrine room looks almost like it did in the temple’s earlier years. Fascinating artifacts are displayed and explained throughout the museum.