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Ewa Plantation manager’s home, then and now

August 10th, 2013 · 14 Comments

Meda and I entered graduate school at UH Manoa in the fall of 1969 after graduating from college on the mainland.

Several months later, we drove out to Ewa one day to see the plantation manager’s home, where her great-grandfather, George F. Renton, Sr., and later his son, George Jr., served as managers from 1898 through 1937. Meda’s grandfather, J. Lewis Renton, would have been about 9 years old when the family moved to Ewa.

I remember our little excursion to Ewa quite vividly because our Dodge Dart hit 100,000 miles and the odometer turned to “000000″ when we arrived the corner of Renton Road and Renton Place, a definite chicken skin moment.

At that time, it was still quite a stately home, the house and grounds looking relatively well maintained.

manager's house

manager's house

Click here for several more photos from that long-ago visit, including the odometer turning over.

As usual, click on any photo for a larger version.

So it was with great sadness that I received a photo this week from John Bond showing the current condition of the same house.

manager's house

To orient yourself, note that the double doors shown in this photo are visible under the porte cochere in the middle photo (above).

Another opportunity to conserve a bit of island history in the middle of what has become suburban sprawl has been lost.

What a shame.

Tags: History · Photographs · Vintage Hawaii

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mr. Mike in Hilo // Aug 10, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I notice that there was some peeling paint on a wall close to the porte cochere, which suggests that in 1969 the Renton house already was being neglected.

    I wonder what is happening right now around that house. I see a portable toilet to its right and lots of equipment to its left.

  • 2 Bill // Aug 11, 2013 at 12:15 am

    What happened to the t-shirt money?

  • 3 Lopaka43 // Aug 12, 2013 at 7:37 am

    My understanding is that work is underway to do renovations.

  • 4 Calvin Kuniyuki // Aug 12, 2013 at 7:39 am

    It is surprising, when you walk along Renton Road, to see the shape that the manager’s house is in when many of the other historical buildings have been conserved, including workers’ and supervisors’ houses, social hall, churches, store, etc. It’s thus still a nice place to walk and to go back in time.

  • 5 Lorraine // Aug 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I would be interested to know what government agency is working on the renovation. Can you tell me?

  • 6 Isamu Murakami // Aug 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    See this photo:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/106372957805167415257/MYHOMETOWNEWA#5707376059578244610

    and the many following photos to see the destruction of the Ewa Plantation Manager’s Mansion by the City neglect.

  • 7 TERRY SCHEIDT // Aug 14, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I have lived in the Ewa Plains area since 1960.
    I was quite active with the plantation as they
    provided the rec facilities that were totally
    lacking then. I was a member of the Ewa
    Rec Center which had the Tenny Pool, Ball
    park, gym, restaurant, shopping basket and
    rec hall. I actually took care of the ball park
    which had night lights, a grand stand, dugouts
    etc. The shopping basket manager (Yasui)
    was a AJA participant. Al Respicio was the
    Rec Director and I remember quite well the
    famous annual carnival that raised the money
    to operate the facilities. There also was Varona
    Park and Fernandez Park where many activities
    to place. I no longer remember the Plantation
    directors name but I worked with his wife and
    I do recall he did live in the plantation home.

    Just a little that there are still people around
    that actually lived in the good times.

    Today I do not even recognize Ewa Village as it
    once was, sadly. I no longer go there.

  • 8 Isamu Murakami // Aug 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Terry,

    I lived about a block away from the Ewa Gym and is very familiar with all the things you wrote about Ewa. I was born (1928) and raised in Ewa Plantation and left Ewa to go to the mainland in 1950. If you want more fond memories of Ewa go to my website:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/106372957805167415257/MYHOMETOWNEWA#

    You can see Kiyoshi Yasui and you will recognize many of the people in Ewa.

    Aloha and Much Mahalo, Isamu Murakami

  • 9 Isamu Murakami // Aug 14, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Oops,

    The above website is about My Hometown Ewa,
    The following website is about the People of Ewa:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/106372957805167415257/EWAPLANTATIONPEOPLE#

    Happy memories, Isamu

  • 10 TERRY SCHEIDT // Aug 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Aloha Isamu,

    I looked at all the pictures, you have quite an
    album and history. Sure does bring back
    memories. Nothing can replace the good old
    times.

    Thanks for all the photos.

  • 11 Calvin Kuniyuki // Aug 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Isamu,

    I was born in 1948 and grew up in Pearl City, so I am of a different generation and have a different sense of place. But your photos touch me deeply, and I thank you for sharing them. They are a treasure.

    Calvin

  • 12 Jay Cushnie // Aug 20, 2013 at 9:57 am

    When my father Bob Cushnie was transferred from Kohala Sugar to Ewa Sugar in 1945 I was 2 weeks old. Since we needed a house for 4 people we got the “doctor’s house” right across Renton Rd. from the manager’s home. We lived in that home until 1964 when my father became assistant manager and we moved across Renton Rd. into the assistant manager’s home right next to the Duncans and the Mairs (Mrs. Mair was my father’s sister). Our former house burned down some years after we moved. The manager’s home was off limits to me and my three brothers. The big expansive lawns, beautiful and varied trees and plants, the large elegant home were all maintained with pride. Ewa Plantation was known as the “Queen of the Hawaiian Sugar Plantations” because of the high sugar yields and pride the company took in maintaining the facilities. Compared to Oahu Sugar’s mill Ewa’s looked pristine. I was allowed to visit the manager’s home when I parked cars on the lawn for big functions at the home and when I went over to visit the Bryan kids who were around my age (the older kids). The house, the grounds, the pride of Ewa Plantation is gone. My wife and I visited the manager’s house for the last time in 2004 and even then things were in disrepair. The glory has faded but the memories never will. I also had a chance to visit the assistant manager’s home where we lived and at that time restorations were being done by Easter Seals. For the 25 years that my family lived on the plantation were special times that will be cherished and the memories have been shared with our son.

  • 13 Isamu Murakami // Aug 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    The house your family moved in was Dr. Wall’s home, and like you said was right across the Manager’s Mansion on Renton Road. I passed the house every school day and remember the house had a large tree in the front yard that we called the Elephant Ear tree and it dropped large black

  • 14 Mike Sawamoto // Jan 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Wow! Someone else who remembers the Duncans and Mairs. I remember Jock (?) and maybe his younger brother coming to Ewa School in full Scot’s regalia – kilt and jacket and the whole 9 yards. Heard Mr. Mair was a proud Scot and made his sons wear the outfits. My Uncle Takumi worked as an electrician and said that either Duncan or Mair spoke with an accent and many had difficulty understanding what they said.

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