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H.N. Greenwell Store Museum

Another project of the Kona Historical Society is the restoration of the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum.  They have gone through great lengths to research and stock items that would have been in need to the many cowboys (yes, cowboys…”paniolos” in Hawaii) and farmers in the area, circa 1890.

Built in 1870, by Englishman Henry Nicholas Greenwell, the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum is the oldest surviving store in Kona and one of the oldest buildings in the district.  Among its stock you will find accurate reproductions from rope to rice, saddles to wild dog poison, and denim trousers to wool long johns.  Yes, you read that correctly, wool long johns.  It gets cold at night up in the hills above Kona.

The H.N. Greenwell Store Museum is located just north of the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, between mile markers 111 and 112 on Mamalahoa Highway (Hwy 11).  This makes for a great pair of stops that can be made on the same day and if you can manage to do it on a Thursday, all the better.

Portuguese Stone Oven Bread at the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum on Thursdays

On Thursdays, in the pasture behind the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum, volunteers bake Portuguese sweetbread in a stone oven the way they did it a hundred years ago.  The Portuguese first arrived on the Big Island in 1878, and among their many contributions to the Hawaiian way of life, they introduced the now iconic ukelele and the sound of slack key guitar.  The sound of Hawaiian music would be completely different than what we have come to know as Hawaiian music without them.

They also introduced the Forno, or stone oven.  Whether it was a large communal oven or a smaller family forno, its where they made the taste Hawaii adopted as its own, the Pao Duce, now called Hawaiian Sweetbread.   (They are responsible for yet another island favorite, Portuguese sausage.)

To bake bread in a forno, someone has to be there at 6:00 AM to get the wood fire going to heat up the stone oven.  It takes 4-hours for the stone oven to sufficiently heated, then the coals are removed from inside of the oven and the bread is put in to bake in the residual heat stored in the stones.  (To experience this alone is worth visiting the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum.)

The H.N. Greenwell Store Museum is open Mon thru Thur, from 10:00 AM till 2:00 PM.  The Portuguese Stone Oven Baking is done on Thursdays only, between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM.  The bread starts coming out between 12:00 and 12:30 PM and is sold for $7.00 a loaf.    Only 30 loaves fit in the oven, and they are sold on a first come, first served basis, so make sure you time your arrival early enough to get a hold of one…or two.

Admission to the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum is $7.00 for adults, $3.00 for children 5-12, and free for children under 5.

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