Museum anniversary: as if Riznik never left

LIHU’E – It was as if Dr. Barnes Riznik had never left.

There were many of his old acquaintances who took advantage of the two-hour open house at the Grove Farm Museum to come and “catch up with old times” with Riznik, who returned from Massachusetts for the occasion.

Riznik balanced the talk-story sessions with his book signing of the Mabel Wilcox biography that was on sale, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the museum.

Riznik previously was manager of Grove Farm Homestead Museum, and the sister facility, the Wai’oli Mission House Museum Hanalei.

Located behind a lichen-encrusted rock wall off bustling Nawiliwili Road, parking overflowed the gigantic lawn area, filling all available shoulder space as well as the grassed-off area.

“I didn’t realize this many people would come,” Bob and Lenore Klass said, exiting their tour of the old plantation estate home. “When we got here at 1:45, there must’ve been less than 25 people, but look at it now.”

Beneath a giant spreading kamani tree that shared its lichen-encrustation with that of the rock wall enclosing the area, people mingled, chatted, and took advantage of the museum’s hospitality.

“There’s the haupia cake,” announced one guest as Bob Schleck, the museum’s director, appeared with the sheet cake supported by his shoulder.

“Do you realize that this is where it all started?” Jan Robinson of the American Heart Association said. “Mabel Wilcox was a tuberculosis nurse, and she founded the Hawai’i version of the American Lung Association.”

Robinson said that Wilcox’s office, detached from the main house, but still housing her original desk, was the site of the first place where the seeds of the Hawai’i chapter of the American Lung Association sprouted.

Residents of nearby subdivisions took advantage of the opportunity to get an inside glimpse into the estate home, enjoying the opportunity for a respite from chores in the hot afternoon sun.

Many commented that this was the first time they’ve had a chance to see the inside of the home they pass by on a daily basis.

Riznik looked up from his signing and smiled. “I saw your mom at the supermarket.”

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