Puunene School

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Puunene School
Puʻunēnē School front entrance
Puunene School is located in Hawaii
Puunene School
Coordinates 20°51′41″N 156°26′57″W / 20.86139°N 156.44917°W / 20.86139; -156.44917
Area 10.9 acres (4.4 ha)
Built 1922
Architectural style Classical Revival
Governing body Hawai'i Department of Education
MPS Maui Public Schools MPS
NRHP Reference # 00000663[1]
Added to NRHP August 22, 2000

The Puʻunēnē School, also known as Puunene School, is a historic school building in the community of Puʻunēnē in the central part of Maui, Hawaii, United States. Built in 1922 by the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company (a division of Alexander & Baldwin), which ran the community, it was erected on 10 acres (4.0 ha) of land donated by the company in 1913. Upon completion, it replaced an earlier four-room school on the site that was built to hold 350 students. The Classical Revival 1922 two-story concrete building became Maui's largest elementary school with about 1000 students. In the 1950s the area went into decline, and the building was used for special education classes. In 1979 it became an administrative annex for the Department of Education. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings in Hawaii on August 22, 2000.[2]

In 1937 Puunene School science teacher Soichi Sakamoto began training boys in a Three Year Swim Club to compete for the 1940 Summer Olympics, which were originally scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan. Jose Balmores, Keo Nakama, "Bunny" Nakama, "Halo" Hirose, and Bill Smith swam 50-yd sprints against the 15 mph current (much clearer in those days) and went on to compete nationally but were never able to participate in the canceled 1940 and 1944 Olympics. However, Smith was finally able to win gold on the 400- and 800-meter relay team in the 1948 Olympics.[3]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ Daina Penkiunas (February 24, 1992). "Puunene School nomination form" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  3. ^ Nakaso, Dan. "They promised to swim three years and beyond". Hawaiian Swimming. Retrieved 16 November 2013.