Gulick Rowell House a Kauai Historic Site

Waimea Historical Home

Photo taken in 2009 Courtesy of Joel Bradshaw

The Gulick-Rowell House sits quietly nestled in Waimea on Huakai Road (formally known as Missionary Row) between Waimea Town and the road leading up to Kokee. Construction of the home began in 1829 by Rev. Peter Johnson Gulick, who with his wife left their home in Boston and sailed 148 days before landing on Oahu on March 28, 1828. The home was completed by Rev. George Rowell in 1846 and made this his family home. Rev. Rowell passed away on June 1, 1884, and was buried on the property. On April 15, 1978, The Gulick-Rowell House made its way to the National Register of Historic Places as the eighth of 37 sites on Kauai, making the list one year before the Kilauea Lighthouse was listed.

The two-story coral limestone house has the distinction of being Hawaii’s oldest continuously occupied house. The house became a home for the sugar company’s plantation managers, and during a short period the basement served as the Waimea town jailhouse. The history and stories of this home span from the the arrival of missionary families in the early 1800’s to the final days of Hawaii’s sugar era.

Today the Gulick-Rowell House sits unoccupied, hidden under the shade of a large Monkey Pod Tree. Time has been friendly to a home that has been around for over 180 years, but the last decade has not been kind. Architect Bob Fox worked on the home inspection in 1997 and was quoted as saying, “Once a house is unoccupied, it’s amazing how quickly it deteriorates. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like the whole building gives up and just rots away.”

It would be nice to see this historical home restored and and turned into a place where the history of Waimea and Kauai’s West Side, could continue to share the stories of a time past but not forgotten. Learn more about Waimea and Kauai’s sleepy West Side by checking out the Waimea Town Celebration, which is is held every year in February. This year is their 35th year. Events will be held throughout the week of February 19-25th.

The home is currently owned by Kikiaola Land Company who has done an amazing job of restoring aging plantation cottages built in the1900’s into what is now the Waimea Plantation Cottage

The land owners would love to start a non-profit organization or find an existing foundation that would make it possible raise funds for the repair and renovation of this irreplaceable example of traditional New England architecture in Hawaii.

3 replies
  1. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    I visit this house every time I go to Kauai. Each time it is in worse condition. I pray that someone will rehab it. It has such wonderful history. Who owns it?

  2. Patricia A Kelly
    Patricia A Kelly says:

    Patricia (Strong-Hinckley-Gulick) Kelly
    My Great-Great Great grandmother Mertie Gulick was cousins with the children of Rev. Peter and Fanny Gulick who built this home and where Fanny gave birth to their seven sons and one daughter. I note this post was originated in 1997, so I hope some how in the last 20 years someone has managed to start a restoration fund to help maintain this example of Hawaiian missionary life of the 1800’s. Rev. Peter and Fanny moved over to Oahu, where Gulick Avenue still exists, and then to Japan where both died in Kobe Japan at their last missionary post.
    My husband and I lived on Oahu is the 1970’s and remember well the big cane spiders we had around the house every time they burnt the cane fields, so I can relate to the children finding them in the attic of this fine old house.

  3. Stuart Dole
    Stuart Dole says:

    My grandfather was born in this house (1878) – seventh of what became a family of 13 children. My grandfather’s mom was a Rowell. I visited in 2006 and got some (exterior) pictures, including the tiny cemetery in the back yard.

    The family historian remembers the kids making pets of the spiders in the attic. It must have been quite lively in those days.

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