Maui Arts & Entertainment

Exploring Historic Maui: New Book Tells the Story of Maui’s Small Towns

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Exploring Historic Maui: New Book Tells the Story of Maui’s Small Towns.

Watermark Publishing has released Exploring Historic Maui, an extensive collection of rare photos and  anecdotes spanning the island’s rich cultural history.

The 392-page hardcover book is a compilation of Watermark’s previously published Small Town Series historical photo books on Lahaina, Wailuku and Upcountry Maui—recognized by the American Association for State and Local History for excellence in the preservation and interpretation of regional history.

Exploring Historic Maui features hundreds of archival photos—with detailed narrative and locations keyed to walking maps—that together tell the island’s story from the whaling port of Old Lahaina to the sugar towns of Central Maui to the cowtowns and corrals of Upcountry.

Lahaina-born Summer Kupau-Odo authored the book’s Lahaina section, sharing the old seaport’s history through images collected from local families’ photo albums and the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, among other sources. The section features Front Street in the 19th century, the Nagasako family in their candy store in 1921, a 1925 football team at Malu ‘ulu o Lele Park and the 1972 sinking of the sailing ship Carthaginian. Kupau-Odo is an alumna of Lahainaluna High School, Pepperdine University and the William S. Richardson School of Law.

The book’s Wailuku section, written and researched by George Engebretson, includes fascinating merchant and family photos never seen in print prior to publication of the Small Town Series, as well as photos from the Maui Historical Society, Bishop Museum and the Hawai‘i State Archives. Among them are: a turn-of-the-century trial in Maui’s first courthouse, the laying of the Good Shepherd Church cornerstone in 1910, Harry Kaya and his dog Queenie at the ‘Īao Theatre snack shop and Hāna-born opera singer Tandy Mackenzie posing with the Hawaiian Ladies Society in 1922. A Honolulu native, Engebretson is publisher of Watermark Publishing and its subsidiary imprint, Legacy Isle Publishing.


Former Maui News reporter Jill Engledow contributed to the section on Upcountry Maui and its vibrant history of sugar barons and shopkeepers, plantation families and paniolo. Upcountry images include Komoda Store circa 1916, the Molina Brothers Orchestra in Keahua Village in the mid-1930s, a 1937 Maui High School May Day Fete and post-tsunami devastation in Lower Pā‘ia in 1946. Engledow has lived on Maui since the late 1960s and was a journalist at The Maui News for 18 years. A freelance writer for the past two decades, she is the author of several Maui-centric books and collaborations.


Exploring Historic Maui is priced at $22.95 in hardcover and is available at bookstores and other retail outlets, from online booksellers, or direct from the publisher.

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