Grove Farm Homesteads Museum walls come down on Smithsonian free day

LIHU‘E — If people don’t know what you have, how can they support it? That was the question Carol Lovell of the Grove Farm Homesteads Museum was asking Saturday.

The Grove Farm Homesteads Museum took advantage of the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day to offer free admission to members of the community to interact with different cultural groups offering exhibits as well as tour the historic grounds of the museum located just off Nawiliwili Road in Lihu‘e.

“We live just down the street and I didn’t know about this place,” said Steven Fujii, who stopped by after seeing the sign and the cars overflowing onto Nawiliwili Road. “My wife discovered she knows a lot of people here and so this isn’t just come and go.”

In addition to the free tours of the museum, the steam whistle belonging to Wainiha, the historic steam locomotive belonging to the Grove Farm Homesteads Museum, reminded guests of the free rides it was offering at the track which runs on the original line in Lihu‘e.

Robert Schleck of the Grove Farm Homesteads Museum, coming off the heels of a successful completion of renovation work at the Historic County Building, said he would have liked to see more of the different cultural groups offering their culture, but said it was the museum’s first experience so there is a lot of room to grow.

In the spirit of Smithsonian museums which offer free admission every day, Museum Day is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian Magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket, states the Smithsonian Magazine website.

“We’re one of the Smithsonian museums,” Lovell said. “This is one way we can take down the walls and we’re getting a lot of residents, many of have never been here before, and the cheer leaders seem to have a lot of fun, even taking advantage of the lawn to get in some practice.”

The cheerleaders from the Lihu‘e Patriots Junior Pee Wee division were engaged in helping guests create Chinese paper lanterns and dragon kites, their tent set up near a Chinese dragon which was on loan from the Kaua‘i Museum for the event.

Other participating groups included the Kaua‘i Bonkyu Kai bonsai group with Sam Lee, community volunteers selling a variety of cultural foods, and lauhala crafters who stopped their work to chat with the stream of guests which flowed through the museum.

“We have some bonsai within the museum’s landscape so we’re hoping the bonsai group can maybe help us with that,” Lovell said.

The Grove Farm Homesteads Museum is a 100-acre Grove Farm site which preserves the earliest surviving set of domestic, agricultural and sugar plantation buildings, furnishings and collections, surrounding orchards and pasturelands in Hawai‘i, the Grove Farm website states.

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• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or


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