Photos: Courtesy of Rae Huo
Article Written By: Michael Keany, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
Built in 1925, the plantation manager’s house was the most imposing residence on the ‘Ewa Sugar Plantation—a two-story colonial revival with a large yard and a grand entry drive, as well as an arched porte cochere. After sugar operations ended in the early 1970s, the house suffered from a lack of maintenance until the City and County of Honolulu bought the plantation property in 1995. The manager’s house was placed, along with the rest of the ‘Ewa Sugar Plantation Villages, on the National Register of Historic Places, and, until a few years ago, was regularly used as a neighborhood gathering place for meetings and parties.
What threatens it?
Although the house suffers from termite damage and its lead-based paint and out-of-code plumbing and electrical wiring must be replaced, state Rep. Rida Cabanilla says the primary threat to the property is the City and County’s lack of a plan. Since Mayor Mufi Hannemann succeeded Jeremy Harris in 2004, the house has been closed to the public, and some areas of the property look like a junkyard. “Why is it in such a state of disrepair? I call it demolition by neglect,” Cabanilla says. “It’s a shame, because it has so much historic value.”
What can be done?
There is no shortage of interest in the property; the ‘Ewa Historical Society has said it would like to acquire the manager’s house, as has the ‘Ewa Villages Homeowners Association. But some say that the city’s current administration has been frustratingly unresponsive. Tesha Malama, manager of the ‘Ewa Village Homeowners Association, says, “Right now, it’s a question of the city moving into action, but with everything else the city has to do, I really think they’re not paying attention to what’s happening over here.”