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Visit this beautifully preserved historic home, built in 1834 for missionaries in Hanalei. Our intimate and in-depth guided tours of the home shed light on daily life and the cultural exchange between American missionaries and Hawaiians in the 19th century.

American missionaries arrive in Hawaii

American missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1819, from Boston as a part of Second wave of the Great Awakening. Missionaries introduced new beliefs and learned to speak Hawaiian, initiating a deep and long-lasting cultural exchange.

King Kamehameha III supported the missionaries initiative to provide educational opportunities, because he believed in literacy and education among his people in addition to their rich traditions of using chant, hula, and song to record history, genealogies, and cultural stories.

He aupuni palapala ko‘u – Mine is a kingdom of literacy.
- Kamehameha III, ruler of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i 1825 - 1854

The missionaries were involved in phonetically developing the written Hawaiian language and translated the Bible and other texts into Hawaiian. By the end of the 1800s, the literacy rate among Hawaiians was over 80 percent, one of the highest in the world. 

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Abner & Lucy Wilcox

Abner and Lucy Wilcox volunteered as missionaries with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. They traveled from Connecticut to Hawaii and were first stationed on the islands of Hawai'i and Oahu for 9 years before they were sent to Kauai in 1846 with their four young sons. 


The Wilcox family had seven sons: Charles, George, Edward, Albert, Samuel, William, and Henry. 

Educators above all

Both Abner and Lucy were district school teachers in rural Connecticut before becoming missionary teachers. The mission school provided education in Hawaiian language to the children of local chiefs and commoners alike. The mission's commitment to education helped shape the social and cultural landscape of Hanalei. 


All of the church services and schooling was done in Hawaiian language. Abner himself worked to translate English texts into Hawaiian.


Abner and Lucy Wilcox maintained a family library of more than 200 titles, most of which remain in the house. 

Historic House Restoration

Waioli Mission House museum was one of the first examples of a historic house restoration in Hawaii.


Elsie Wilcox, Mabel Wilcox, and Lucy Etta Wilcox Sloggett bought the house and adjoining open land and taro fields of the former mission from their uncle Albert Wilcox’s estate when he died. In 1921 they started to develop plans to restore and preserve the buildings and family belongings. 

Visit to learn more about

19th century education

20th century restoration

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