As the home of Hawai‘i’s first successful sugar mill, Kōloa is where it all began.
Visit the History Center and trace Kōloa’s past through photographs and artifacts that tell the story of the first successful sugar plantation in Hawai‘i and life in the era.
Located in Building 10, off the Waikomo Courtyard.
History Center Hours: Daily, 9AM – 9PM
NOTE: The history center is moving to another building within Kōloa Town. Follow our social media for the latest updates on this move and visiting hours.
The spirit of the past lives on in Old Kōloa Town. Each original building or building site has a plaque detailing the history of the businesses and families who lived, worked, and played there when Kōloa was a bustling plantation town.
Built by Mrs. Toyo Nii around 1920, the original building on this site was first used as an ice cream parlor by the Shinagawas. The Ichizo Tao family then ran it as a general store and ice cream parlor and the building was named after them. The store also sold rice grown along the Huleʻia River. The Tao store served the Kōloa plantation workers from all the camps around the district.
This building was originally built in the 1920s by the Chang family and operated as a general store. When they started a bakery in the 1930s, the Changs found that their special pastries attracted people from all over Kauaʻi. The entire family helped to produce delicacies such as clover rolls, hearty breads, apple turnovers, small custard pies, flakey coconut pies, and their unique doughnuts.
Originally the Yamada Building c. 1921. On this site stood the Kōloa Dispensary Building which was the only medical facility for the Kōloa Sugar Mill and plantation community from around 1900 to the early 1930s. Dr. Yoshizawa, an independent doctor who was not working directly for the plantation, ran the clinic, which was later relocated to the rear of the building.
Also known as the Monkeypod Store c.1925. First built in 1898, the Yamamoto Store was once the oldest commercial building in Kōloa. The site housed a general grocery and liquor store leased by a man named Yamashiroya, commonly known as Yamaka. Starting in 1915, a single gas pump was added to the operation.
Long considered the hub of the Kōloa community, the Kōloa Hotel is believed to be Kauaʻi’s second hotel, after the Fairview Hotel in Līhu‘e. It was probably constructed at the turn of the century as an extension to the Yamamoto Store and used specifically as a lodging place for the numerous traveling salesmen, also known as drummers, who worked for large mercantile agencies on Oʻahu.
Originally located on the bank of what is now of Waikomo Stream, the hotel o-furo was built for use by its mostly Japanese guests. The charcoal-heated bath tub was housed in a separate shed to prevent any accidental fires from spreading and the building also held a laundry washroom. Culturally, the Japanese enjoyed relaxing soaks in the o-furo, scrubbing and rinsing themselves first to make sure they would keep the soaking water clean when they entered the neck-high hot tub.
Built by Dr. A.H. Waterhouse and Mr. Ornellas in 1927, this building was originally used as the Kōloa Post Office, a tailor shop and Ornellas general store. Before the war it was also the site of a watch repair shop run by Mr. Iwai, a beauty shop run by Ms. Tanaka, the Manila Tailor Shop and Dulce’s Dress Shop. During World War II most of the building was used as an Army bakery, though the post office remained.
Constructed in 1905 by Matsuichi Okumura, the Okumura building is the only two-story building from the plantation era surviving today in Old Kōloa Town. The Okumura family lived above the store. The general store downstairs dealt in general merchandise, chicken feed, dry goods, fertilizer, crop seeds, candies, and other foods. The Okumuras provided goods for workers at the Lāwa‘i pineapple cannery who were their major customers.
A 1920s building, the Usa Store was originally a house located close to the town and the sugar mill. Its occupants included a hat blocking store and other retail businesses. The Usas, immigrants from Japan, leased the store and hung a sign in their window advertising “Bicycles and Diamond Rings.” They sold vegetables, candies, and canned goods as well.