The Sunday porch: Kalaupapa, Hawaii

1 St. Francis Catholic Church, Kalaupapa, HI, HABS, Library of CongressThe west front of St. Francis Catholic Church, Moloka’i Island, Kalaupapa, Hawaii, July 1991, by Jack E. Boucher for an Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (all photos here).

2 St. Francis Catholic Church, Kalaupapa, HI, HABS, Library of Congress

The church was built in 1908 to serve the Kalaupapa Leprosy Settlement, now part of Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

3 St. Francis Catholic Church, Kalaupapa, HI, HABS, Library of Congress

4 St. Francis Catholic Church, Kalaupapa, HI, HABS, Library of Congress

The word porch — “1250-1300; Middle English porche < Old French < Latin porticus porch, portico” — was originally used to indicate the covered entrance to a church, usually on the south side.

3 thoughts on “The Sunday porch: Kalaupapa, Hawaii

    1. This is an excerpt from a 2006 NPR interview with John Tayman, who wrote a history of the colony:

      “. . .The town of Kalapapa, which is the primary town in the colony, was, in fact, a lovely, small town just like any mainstream American town. It had a social hall, and a dance hall, and bars, and restaurants, and a general store, and a thousand people, and they made the best of their lives there.

      MONTAGNE: Well, that is the triumph; that these people sent to Molokai to die, lived.

      Mr. TAYMAN: They did. They managed to make a community out of something that was horrific. There were many, many villains, but there were also many heroes, not only among the patients, but people who came to give aid to the patients.

      MONTAGNE: In the end, the notion became that people who had leprosy would be treated in the community and released from places like the colony. Not everyone left Molokai. Why?

      Mr. TAYMAN: As the medical community became more aware of how to treat the disease, the government responded by sort of loosening the strictures that they had on the patients. But amazingly, it wasn’t until 1969 that the isolation policy was repealed. By the time they repealed that law, however, most of the people in the community had been there for 30, 40, 50 years. It was the only home they had. Some of those patients who did have some disfigurement didn’t like being out in the general population and being stared at. They had formed a magnificent sort of loving community that, over the years, had also turned into one of the last unspoiled places in Hawaii. . . .

      MONTAGNE: The leper colony of Molokai is still home to 27 people. In the 1980s, after developers pushed to exile the residents once more to make way for a luxury resort, the government declared the colony on Molokai a National Historical Park. Residents are guaranteed a home in what’s now a small paradise for the rest of their lives.”

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