From her hillside home in Manoa, Sandra Hawk has a commanding view of downtown and Diamond Head that epitomizes modern Honolulu.
MANOA HISTORIC HOMES WALKING TOUR
>> Where: Register at 1812 McKinley St.
But turn around and look into the home and you are transported to lands far away. Doorways are outlined with Balinese door frames. Chinese furniture, both antique and modern, sits in the comfortable living room. Tile from Mexico and Asia accents the kitchen and bathroom.
It all reflects a cosmopolitan sensibility that stems from Hawk’s travels abroad.
"The important thing was to take all the architectural elements that I brought back from different trips and to design them into the house, but still make the house look like it belonged in Manoa so that when you drive down the street, you don’t know this is here," said Hawk, a potter.
People willing to take a walk in Manoa on May 1 will be in the know. Hawk’s home is one of seven residences that will be open for public viewing during the Manoa Historic Homes Walking Tour, the eighth time that residents of the area have invited the larger community to share in the history and ambience of the valley.
Visitors will go on a 1.5-mile, self-guided walking tour through Puu o Manoa (Rocky Hill). Docents will offer information on the homes’ history, architecture and decoration. Another 20 homes and sites along the path, including a former dairy and taro terraces, will be highlighted with signs and handouts.
"We talk about the history of the area, what was here, we talk about the architecture, we talk about the special trees and landscaping," said Jan Tucker of Malama Manoa (formerly Malama O Manoa), the community organization that is organizing the tour.
The walking tours started 16 years ago as a way for Malama Manoa to perpetuate its mission to protect and preserve the valley. Held every two years, the tours have attracted upward of 400 people. "People just seem to enjoy the morning walk and the camaraderie," Tucker said. "We just saw this walk as a way to bring the community together."
Malama Manoa got started after an "unfortunate" incident in which a newly built home clashed with the neighborhood design aesthetic, Tucker said. "It took up a lot of space. No greenery anymore, no architectural interest, no landscaping," she said. "People just started looking around and noticing that things were changing, a lot of times not in positive ways."
Hawk’s home, designed by architect Nancy Peacock, is highlighted as a way modern construction can be sensitive to the neighborhood and yet unique and personal. Seen from the street, it blends easily with surrounding board-and-batten homes. Inside, however, Thai and Indonesian influences immediately become apparent, with a large wooden panel from Indonesia dominating one wall and bamboo ceiling screens creating a light, airy feeling.
Full-size sliding doors open up the back side of the home, taking advantage of the breeze that sweeps through the valley. Many retreats for Hawaiian royalty, like Queen Kaahumanu’s "green shutter" home, were built in Manoa because of the breeze.
Hawk’s home won design and construction awards and a sustainability prize for its water catchment system, but it has a notorious history, too. It was once the site of a home owned by a man who embezzled it from the previous owner and made it his personal "party" home. After the Hawks moved in, a neighbor came by and asked, "You got a family? Thank you!" Hawk said with a laugh.
The new home, built in 2000, is also an example of how good design can promote regional history. That’s one of the reasons Malama Manoa sponsors the walking tour.
"We want people to know that it’s a history tour, but it’s not historical homes," Tucker said. "It’s the history from the beginnings of our valley, from the Hawaiians who came here, from the different heritage groups, the Germans, the Scots, the people from New England."
Tucker said she hopes the tour will inspire homeowners in other areas to look around their neighborhoods for markers of the past.
"Just right outside their door, (people) might notice that they might have, you know, special stones on their curb, that they might not know were anything special and were worth preserving. I think it would be great if every community had something like this."
1812 McKinley St. Colonial revival-style home owned by the Young family of Young Bros. shipping company; it contains items related to Hawaii’s maritime history; garden features native plants.
1925 McKinley St. Built in 1913, this Tudor-style home is among the earliest houses built in Manoa and has remained in the same family for four generations.
1937 Kakela Drive This Spanish colonial revival-style home with its red, barrel-tile roof is a “first cousin” to the Mediterranean home style.
1906 McKinley St. The property was part of land granted in 1855 to the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Mission for the establishment of a school (Oahu College, now Punahou); designed by Herbert Cohen, who as Herbert C. Cayton was a widely known Honolulu architect and engineer.
2115 Haena Drive The street-level view of this home, designed by Nancy Peacock, fits into the neighborhood but opens onto a commanding view of Diamond Head and downtown Honolulu.
2022 Kakela Drive Currently the residence for Punahou administrators, this Hawaiian ranch-style home was built in 1931 and still has the original wood paneling and floors.
2117 Kakela Place This Dutch colonial-style home features a double-sloped roof, known as a gambrel.