A Jail That Takes No Prisoners

By Hawaii.com Team
Photo:  ClatieK.

Photo: ClatieK.

It was inevitable that the missionaries who had settled in Lahaina by the mid-1800s and their royal Hawaiian converts would find some way to curtail the rowdy behavior of drunken and disorderly sailors who found their way to the little Hawaiian port where their whaling fleets wintered. The solution was a stone prison called Hale Paʻahao, built in 1852.

Hale Paahao is Now an Event Venue and Historical Site

Hale Paʻahao, which translates to “stuck-in-irons house,” still stands at the corner of Waineʻe and Prison streets, but it no longer houses prisoners. Today it is frequently rented for community gatherings and is included in Lahaina’s 31 Historical Sites tour.

A First Hand Account of a Day Spent at Hale Paahao

The Lahaina Walking Tour audiotape contains a journal account written by a 16-year-old seaman in 1855 that paints a tolerable picture of his stay in the prison. “No restrictions are placed on the use of cards or tobacco,” he wrote, “and any sedate individual could therefore lay back all day with a pipe in his mouth and enjoy himself at a game of euchre as well as though he was comfortably stowed away in a beer house.”

Free copies of the Lahaina Historical Guide are available throughout Lahaina and the Kāʻanapali resorts.

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