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Hale Paahao, Lahaina Prison

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Due to the recent wildfires on Maui, this entry will be updated as more information becomes available.
1854. Prison and Wainee sts.
  • (Photograph by Jimmy Emerson, DVM CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
  • (Photograph by Jimmy Emerson, DVM CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Now pristine and bucolic with mature trees and a manicured lawn, the high, buttressed, coral-block perimeter walls reveal this building's original function. Constructed at the height of the whaling period, Hale Paahao, “the house of irons,” encloses a thirty-one-thousand-square-foot prison yard. The square holes in the walls originally contained heavy beams which supported an interior catwalk upon which guards were stationed. The walls employ some stone taken from Lahaina's former fort, which was built twenty-three years earlier to protect the town from unruly whalers. The interior of one of the two shiplap-clad cell blocks was reconstructed in 1959 following a fire the previous year. A square cupola helped ventilate the central hallway with its five cells on either side. The distinctive interior walls of laid-up one-by-four planks proved a successful deterrent from escape. The primary occupants of the jail were sailors who broke the town's sundown curfew for seamen. The two-story clapboard gatehouse was reconstructed in 1988. The prison master resided on the second floor.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard



  • 1854

  • 1958

    Interior destroyed by fire
  • 1959

    Interior reconstructed
  • 1988

    Gatehouse reconstructed

What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Hale Paahao, Lahaina Prison", [Lahaina, Hawaii], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Hawaii

Buildings of Hawaii, Don J. Hibbard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011, 203-203.

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