Article Written By: Victoria Wiseman, HONOLULU Magazine
Interestingly enough, something that threatens this location is also helping it: television crews. “The Hawai‘i Five-O film crew came in this year and they made some significant improvements to the foundations of the Irwin House, the house that was constructed in 1893,” says Paul Brennan of the Kailua Historical Society.
But it was accidental that Brennan came across the crew, who he said had no idea of the significance of where they were filming. After explaining its history, he was able to supervise the carpenters for a few days. “They took a great deal of care, responding with the kind of mālama that we wish would happen all the time,” Brennan says.
Despite this, the landowner has still done nothing to restore or protect the property, which is rife with graffiti and continues to deteriorate.
Dr. Brennan, at Kailua Historical Society, stated that there continues to be no effort by HRT, Inc. to maintain the property and its structures. The company still has not responded to offers from the Kailua Historical Society to lease and maintain the property.
LISTED AS ENDANGERED IN 2005
Article Written By: A. Kam Napier, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
This 10-acre has been touched by every historical movement from the Great Māhele to the Japanese investment bubble of the 1980s. Some highlights: Maj. Edward Boyd and his wife bought the land in 1869, creating an estate where King David Kalākaua and his Sister, Lili’uokalani, attended parties or simply came for rest – in fact, Lili’uokalani penned “Aloha ‘Oe” after an 1878 visit to the estate. Sugar baron William G. Irwin next purchased the estate in 1893, starting up a coffee mill there that still exists. C. Brewer owned the estate in the 1920s and the 1930s, using it as a retreat. Kāne’ohe Ranch bought it in 1941, when the military used it as a headquarters and rest area. Even the Girl Scouts used it as a camp in the late ‘40s. The Hedemann family – related to the Castle family – where the last to live there, until 1985, when the estate was purchased by Japanese investor Yasuo Yasuda, who developed much of the surrounding area as the golf course Luana Hills.
What threatens it?
Uninhabited since about 1985, the structures and the grounds of the estate are rapidly being absorbed by the rain forest of Maunawili. Vandals have heavily damaged the wooden main houses on the property, which date back to the 1860s and 1890s. The roofs leak, plants run riot. The estate, owned since 2000 by HRT Ltd., the for-profit arm of the Jeanette and Harry Weinburg Foundation, has no security and has had little to no maintenance.
What can be done?
HRT Ltd. Generally allows the Kailua Historical Society to lead tours of the estate, and allowed our photographer on the property, but did not return our calls for an interview. “KHS has always said they’d be happy to clean the place up,” says Brennan. “We’ve also asked HRT if they would lease the site to us and we’d maintain it.” HRT has not responded to these offers, except to say that they are “under study,” says Brennan.