Ewa Plantation manager’s home, then and now

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.

18 responses to “Ewa Plantation manager’s home, then and now

  1. Mr. Mike in Hilo

    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. What happened to the t-shirt money?

  3. Calvin Kuniyuki

    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.

  4. See this photo:


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

  5. 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.

  6. 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:


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

    Aloha and Much Mahalo, Isamu Murakami

    • 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

      Thanks for all the photos.

  7. Oops,

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


    Happy memories, Isamu

    • Calvin Kuniyuki


      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.


  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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

  10. My uncle “Bucky” Mair married my father’s sister. He was from Scotland and was quite the soccer player. Their oldest son was Donald, sister Margaret and the youngest son was Jock. He spoke with the Scottish accent.

  11. Mr. Murakami–Thank you for sharing all these Ewa memories and pictures. My association with Ewa was brief and more recent–from 1977 to 1981. My father was the principal at Lanakila Baptist when we moved to the old plantation office building. I worked with him and others on many maintenance projects on the office building, manager’s residence, and the three houses on the far side of the manager’s residence. It’s very sad to see the shape the manager’s house and grounds are in, as we worked hard to keep things historically accurate as repairs were made. I mowed the lawns for all those properties and for the frontage and median on Renton Road, and it was a paradise of flora. During my junior year in HS I worked at the Shopping Basket, probably the first and last haole Yasui ever hired. I was a bag boy and stocker, and two afternoons a week I drove Yasui’s truck to deliver groceries to the seniors who had purchased them earlier in the day. Got to know the back roads well, esp the cane haul road. One afternoon I floored the truck on the cane haul road and the throttle got caught in the floor mat–I was just praying the gates on the road were open–fortunately they were! While working for Yasui I would use the school’s lawn tractor to mow the baseball fields by the abandoned pool. I recall a hair salon/barber shop in the immediate vicinity. When one of the many attempted salvage operations of the mill needed someone to stack firebrick from the boilers, I hired on, although I believe I never collected a paycheck. Have climbed to the top of the mill–great views from that room at the peak. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Mr. Murakami: We are working on a video of the Ewa Plains then and now and would be honored if you would join us on this project. If you are interested, please email me or call. emi.anamizu@coregroupone.com/808-440-9421. I will be anxiously awaiting your reply. Thank you very much, Emi Anamizu

  13. I remember when “The Mansion” was actually maintained by Lanakila Baptist. They would house the single teachers who taught at the school, there. The place for me at the time was mysterious because I didn’t necessarily appreciate, at the time, the whole history of sugar in the Ewa Plain. Now I can’t get enough of seeing what it was like then, and unfortunately what it has become now.

    Back in 2008, when I was in the neighborhood with my (now) fiance, we went to the Mansion and walked around it. She and I noted that there would be an opportunity to really make the Mansion a magnet for travelers coming to Hawaii who’d like to stay in a non-traditional place. This Mansion could provide that opportunity for those hearty travelers….and also teach about the traditions that made Ewa what it was in the past. Alas, that is still just a dream. But it could still happen with money.

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