Makawao, Maui, Hawaii
The image of the building to the right once was the home of sugarcane plantation owners Henry and Emily Baldwin. Built in 1903, the estate known as “sunny side”, has been well cared for and continues to stand proudly in the rural upcountry near the town of Makawao, on the island of Maui. The home and surrounding buildings have been restored, maintained and today is known as Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center, a private company that is dedicated to display and instruction in the arts.
Henry Perrine Baldwin was born on August 29, 1842 in the whaling village of Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, which was at the time the capitol of the Kingdom of Hawaii. His father was American Christian missionary Dwight Baldwin (1798–1886), and his mother was Charlotte Fowler Baldwin. He was named after Matthew LaRue Perrine (1777-1836), a professor at Auburn Theological Seminary, from which his father had graduated shortly before his departure to the Hawaiian Islands.
Henry attended Punahou School in Honolulu and returned to Maui to become a farmer. His first work engagement was an effort to manage William DeWitt Alexander’s rice plantation. As with all his efforts, Henry gave the job his best effort, but despite the hard work, it ended as a miserable failure.
Afterward he went to work for his brother David (also called Dwight Baldwin, Jr) who had started a small sugarcane farm. He hoped to earn enough money to go to medical school, but due to other life events, he never left the sugar industry. He took a job as the foreman of the Waihe’e plantation, owned by Christopher H. Lewers, and at that time, under the management of Samuel Thomas Alexander.
In 1869, Baldwin and Alexander became business partners and bought 12 acres in the eastern Maui ahupua’a (ancient land division) called Hāmākua Poko. (Not to be confused with the Hāmākua district of Hawaiʻi island.) Taking a chance on success, Henry borrowed $8,000, and in 1870 they bought another 559 acres and planted sugarcane.
Henry and Emily built their estate in an area called “Sunnyside” near the small Paliuli Sugar Mill, which had been built on the edge of Rainbow Gulch by Robert Hind. Alexander managed the larger Haiku mill which had been constructed in 1861 by Castle & Cooke, formed by two former missionaries. Alexander married Martha Eliza Cooke, daughter of Amos Starr Cooke, a co-founder of Castle & Cooke.
On March 28, 1876 Baldwin lost his right arm in an industrial accident at the Paliuli mill. Trying to adjust the rollers, his fingers got stuck in the cane grinder, pulling in his right arm, and he almost died before it could be turned off and reversed to free him. A worker was sent to get the nearest doctor ten miles (16 km) away to do the amputation. Within weeks he learned to write with his left hand, and continued to play organ in his church with one hand. In a month he was riding horseback in his fields.
Unlikely as it might seem even the Hawaiian islands experience times of drought, and with sugar cane requiring enormous amounts of water, the issue of irrigation became important as the crop acreage grew. Henry’s partner (Samuel Alexander) organized the concept of an irrigation ditch that would bring water from the wetter windward coast and the upper elevations of Haleakala. Without any engineering background Henry set about constructing what is now known as the Hamakua Ditch, a 17 mile long arrangement of ditches, sluices and siphons that in 1878 began delivering water to the thirsty crops, and is still in use today.
In January of 1909 Henry had an operation for appendicitis. Just as the incident with his arm, he recovered quickly and by the summer of 1911 he was healthy enough to make the voyage to California, but sadly, he died a few days after returning on July 8, 1911.