|A Present to the Past
Fransico Gomes, was born in 1868 in Ponta Delgada, Maderia, he and his family moved to Hawaii when Frank was eleven. After a journey of 123 days, the British ship Ravenscrag arrived in Hawaii in 1879 carrying 428 Portuguese immigrants. The Ravenscrag is reported to be the ship that first brought to Hawaii a musical instrument known in Maderia as the "braguinha," fondly known today as the "ukulele."
Frank’s wife, Theresa DeCosta Vasconcellos, was born on the island of San Miquel in the Azores in 1874. Theresa arrived in Hawaii during the rule of King Kalakaua in 1883.
Traveling with her mother, an aunt, two brothers, two sisters and a cousin, they arrived on the SS Bell Rock, a British ship carrying 1,405 Portuguese immigrants.
Frank and Theresa were married June 24th, 1894 in the original St Joseph’s Church in Makawao. In 1944 they celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a High Mass at the present church built in 1911. Their strong faith and commitment to St. Joseph’s church is evident by a beautiful stain glass window in the church donated by Frank and Theresa Gomes.
After 1900 many of the Portuguese emigrants left the plantations seeking land ownership. The availability of small parcels and fertile soil made upcountry an attractive place to settle. The Makawao area was considered the island’s "first position as pasture land."
The history of Haleakala Ranch and other large ranches is well documented, however there is little written evidence of the smaller landowners. The hard work and investments of the early settlers contributed to the development and prosperity of Makawao.
Frank Gomes, alias, Frank G. Morganho, owned and operated a dairy business on his 18 acres in Kaupakalua, while also raising cattle on his 92 acres in Pi’ahi. Haiku Pineapple Co. leased a portion of the Pi’ahi lands from Mr. Gomes. In 1916, Frank Sr. acquired land in Makawao from Antone F. Tavares. "An area of 21.5 acres, more or less" was purchased for $3000.00 from the longtime Territorial legislator. The deal was said to be in payment of a debt.
In Kaupakalua and Makawao, the Gomes family planted and tended Isabel grape stock brought from Portugal. The grandchildren of Frank and Theresa delight in telling stories of sipping wine from the barrels stored in the Makawao cookhouse. A wine and liquor company established in 1905 in Kapakalua, sold spirits exclusively to the Portuguese community. The Portuguese community was tight knit, as is still evident today.
Besides raising cattle on all of his properties, Frank and his sons made a comfortable living as woodcutters for the plantation in Paia. Taking horse and wagon into the upcountry forests, the men would cut firewood and haul it down to the sugar mill in Paia.
After the old Tavares homestead was torn down, in 1924, Frank and Theresa Gomes built the early 20th century vernacular Hawaiian style home on their Makawao property. The Gomes house features construction details and craftsmanship that indicate it was built for a successful middle-class family. Set upon a hill, Frank and Theresa and their large family of thirteen children, enjoyed vast views of Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains.
This gracious 5-bedroom home is now listed on the State and National Historic Registers.
By preserving the home, the Portuguese forno (bread oven), the water tower, cistern and vineyard, the ties to the past will remain evident in the years to come. The majestic Cook Pine tree, an upcountry icon, still towers over the pu’u hale reminding us to be steadfast in honoring the historical past. Through the preservation of the Gomes home and historical landmarks, the toil and success of the early Portuguese is recognized by the community.
The residence was purchased in 1996, seventy-two years after being built, by Cherie Attix and converted into a bed and breakfast known as Hale Ho’okipa Inn Makawao. The home is tastefully appointed in plantation era furnishings and eclectic collectibles. Most of the interior has been restored reflecting the warmth and character of the 1920’s. The restoration of the exterior and the taming of the grounds continue as ongoing projects.
Hale Ho’okipa Inn offers the local community, outer island residents and worldwide visitors an opportunity to peak into Maui’s past. Old bottles, leather shoes, marbles and other remnants of a bygone era found on the property are displayed. A pictorial history of the Gomes family is also available for visitors to enjoy. Cherie is dedicated to maintaining the property’s historic integrity and character.
The grandchildren of Frank and Theresa Gomes make frequent visits to the childhood home of their parents. Recently, 27 of the 47 cousins, the grandchildren of Frank and Theresa, gathered for a family reunion. Priceless old family photos and a home video were shared over traditional Portuguese foods of homemade bean soup and pan dolce . A Rosary was said in honor of their parents and grandparents, Vuvu and Vovo. Emotions ran high as the Gomes family presented Cherie with a beautiful koa framed collage of the Ravenscrag, some family history and an old photo of Frank and Theresa Gomes to display for her guests. Cherie unveiled the National Historic Registration plaque naming Frank and Theresa Gomes house to the delight of the family. Many of the cousins spent a memorable night at the inn, staying up chatting until the early morning hours . Coffee and malasadas were served on a Sunday morning as spouses and children arrived , cameras clicked, and warm hugs and lingering alohas were exchanged.