The oldest house in Lahaina, this coral-and-rock structure was built in 1834 by Rev. Dwight Baldwin, a doctor with the fourth company of American missionaries to sail to Hawaii. Like many missionaries, he came to Hawaii to do good—including inoculating residents with a smallpox vaccine to protect them during an epidemic in 1853—while also doing very well for himself. After 17 years of service, Baldwin was granted 2,600 acres in Kapalua for farming and grazing. His ranch manager experimented with growing a South American fruit that Hawaiians called hala-kahiki, or pineapple, on a 4-acre plot; the rest is history. The house looks as if Baldwin has just stepped out to tend to a sick neighbor down the street. On Fridays, you’ll really feel you’ve stepped into history on a candlelit twilight tour, offered on the half-hour from dusk till 8pm.
Next door is the Masters’ Reading Room, Maui’s oldest surviving building; admission is included with Baldwin Home admission, as is the Wo Hing Museum, see below). Built in 1834 of coral and stone, this became visiting sea captains’ favorite hangout once the missionaries closed down all of Lahaina’s grog shops and banned prostitution. By 1844, when hotels and bars started reopening, it lost its appeal. It’s now the headquarters of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, a plucky band of historians who try to keep this town alive and antique at the same time. Stop in and pick up a self-guided walking-tour map, which will take you to Lahaina’s most historic sites. You can also pick up the Passport to the Past ($10) here; it includes admission to the Baldwin Home, Wo Hing and Alexander & Baldwin Sugar museums, and Hale Hoikeike (the Bailey House Museum).