Restoration of a Historic Home in Hawaii

The Gulick-Rowell House is a two-story dwelling on the National Register of Historic Places constructed for Christian missionaries nearly 200 years ago in Waimea, Kaua‘i, Hawaii. The house is notable for its New England architecture and use of ōhiʻa lumber and coral limestone blocks cut from offshore reefs by Hawaiian workers, who were paid with goats, Bibles, textbooks and other items by the original homeowner, the Rev. Peter Johnson Gulick.

The building was eventually acquired by Kaua‘i sugarcane magnate Hans Peter Fayé in the early 20th century.

Jim Ballantine, a grandson, founded the nonprofit Hale Puna to promote the cultural and economic vitality of the island’s West Side, with the Gulick-Rowell House at its center. Hale Puna soon established a weekly farmers market and food forest on the one-and-a-half-acre property. Hale Puna recently received a $400,000 grant-in-aid from the State of Hawai‘i to advance the nonprofit’s renovation of the Gulick-Rowell House.

Hale Puna leadership now wants it to become a community hub for locals.

Built in 1830, all the floor framing is hand-hewn Ohia or other native woods cut and dragged from the nearby mountain, and mortised and tenoned together. The exterior walls are coral or coralline sandstone and all the nails of the window casing and floor boards are cut iron nails. The glass that remains is all single strength mouth-blown antique glass.

The basement floor is unique and there is likely no other floor like it in all of Hawaii or the United States. Made of coral sandstone, the floor comprises notched stones that fit together in a style similar to that used for ancient Hawaiian fishpond walls and other surviving ancient Hawaiian stone structures. It is likely the handiwork of local Hawaiian stone masons who would have been expert in stone masonry.

To learn more about Hale Puna, the Gulick-Rowell House and its other initiatives, visit

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1 thought on “Restoration of a Historic Home in Hawaii”

  1. That house looks eerily similar to many in south Louisiana and the inland Caribbean, as well as the conch houses of the Florida Keys. It’s nice to see period buildings like this rescued and restored instead of being torn down, as while I’m a big advocate of growth, at least a little of an area’s architectural heritage should be preserved for future generations.


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