The Ah-Hee family ran the island’s first Poi factory here at The Lotus Garden.
Hawaii Island has a rich history with Hilo having been an important cultural center since ancient days.
People with connections to this land still drop & talk story with us & help us to know more about old times here.
Mrs Ahee raised her 13 children in the cottage that is now The Sugar Shack. As a widow & mother of 13 children she ran a small Poi factory that she and her husband founded together. That space is now our Lohi Apartment. Elders we meet tell us nostalgically ‘..She had the best poi…’ (Poi has always been staple of Hawaiian diet: Taro, cooked and mashed to a paste.)
Irene’s Happy Lunch Place was a popular lunch diner in the 40’s. Part of that kitchen is now a studio apartment named ‘Irene’s Retreat.’
An aunty visits from the mainland comes by now and then. She vividly recalls for us growing up in one of the shacks still standing at the rear of the property. This same building appears on a map at the County Building dating back to the 1890’s. Her family later moved to the cottage that is now The Sugar Shack. Aunty can recall a large Lychee tree in front of what is now The Lotus Cottage. She recalls sitting under it while he smoked an Opium pipe and told her stories..
With 5 homes and 4 storefronts at one time, there were lots of people who have inhabited this small piece of land over many eras of Hilo’s history. We recently found a poi pounder carved out of stone that must have belonged to an inhabitant and may be well over 100 years old . Little bottles, vials, trinkets and treasures.. and of course lots of marbles.
Carved stone Poi Pounder used for preparing Hawaiian Taro found in garden soil at The Lotus Garden, 2015