Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine September-October 2014 - September-October 2014
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A Place in History

The legacy of the past inhabits this lovingly restored Lahaina home.

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Maui Home Interior, Hawaiian Decor Living Room, Hawaiian Living

When a transplanted Los Angeles carpenter named James Stiebinger bought the old Kaluakini home on Front Street and started making repairs, people would stop by, shake their heads, and say, “Jimmy, you’re nuts.”

Built in 1927, the house had once been a charming bungalow in a fashionable neighborhood that was home to Lahaina’s elite: plantation managers, professional people, the renowned and musical Farden family. But by 2000, termite infestations, water damage, and decades of neglect had rendered it a prime candidate for demolition. Portions of the roof and floor had collapsed. The sprawling porch was no longer safe, and those exterior walls that weren’t actually bowing outward were at least out of plumb.

Nuts or not, Stiebinger expended countless hours of physical labor—and a small fortune—on restoring the home. Tom and Chris, who used to live in nearby Puamana, recall walking past the house every morning and seeing the transformation unfold. “Throughout the house, as he restored it, Jimmy made sure the foundation was strong,” says Tom. “He went wall by wall around the house. If a board or a window could be saved, he saved it. If not, he replaced it with something identical. He had the replacement windows custom made in Lahaina; the way you tell if it’s new or original is whether the glass is rippled or not.”