In 1872, some referred to it as “Missionary Street,” although the Missionary Period had ended about 10-years earlier (the Missionary Period was from 1820 – 1863.)
You might more accurately call it the home of the elite, and that is not limited to folks of the Caucasian persuasion – both Kauikeaouli and Emma had summer residences here and included in the list of successful business people who called it home were the Afongs and others.
But you can’t help concluding the strong demand to live there based on early descriptions – even Realtors, today, would be envious of the descriptors Ellis used in 1831: “The scenery is romantic and delightful.”
“Across this plain, immediately opposite the harbour of Honoruru, lies the valley of Anuanu (Nuʻuanu,) leading to a pass in the mountains, called by the natives Ka Pari (Pali,) the precipice, which is well worth the attention of every intelligent foreigner visiting Oahu.” (Ellis, 1831)
“The mouth of the valley, which opens immediately behind the town of Honoruru, is a complete garden, carefully kept by its respective proprietors in a state of high cultivation; and the ground, being irrigated by the water from a river that winds rapidly down the valley, is remarkably productive.” (Ellis, 1831)
Over sixty years later (1897,) Stoddard keeps the demand momentum going by adding, “The way lies through shady avenues, between residences that stand in the midst of broad lawns and among foliage of the most brilliant description. An infinite variety of palms and tropical plants, with leaves of enormous circumference, diversify the landscape.”
Today, the descriptors of the past hold true – and the place is high in the demand (and price,) just as it was nearly two centuries ago.
So, who were some of the people who called this place home?
As noted, an early resident of Nuʻuanu was Kauikeaouli, Kamehameha III. Consistent with tradition, his home had a name, Kaniakapūpū (sound or song of the land snail;) it was located back up into the valley at Luakaha.
Ruins today, the structure, modeled on an Irish stone cottage, was completed in 1845 and is reportedly built on top or in the vicinity of an ancient heiau. It was a simple cottage, a square with four straight walls.
Another royal, Queen Emma, had a “mountain” home, Hānaiakamālama (Lit., the foster child of the light (or moon,)) now known as the Queen Emma Summer Palace. In 1857, she inherited it from her uncle, John Young II, son of the famous advisor to Kamehameha I, John Young I.
The ‘Summer Palace’ was modeled in the Greek Revival style. It has a formal plan arrangement, wide central hall, high ceilings and floor-length hinged, in-swinging shuttered casement window. The Daughters of Hawaiʻi saved it from demolition and it is now operated as a museum and open to the public (a nominal admission fee is charged.)
On the private side, the following are only a few of the several notable residences (existing, or long gone,) in Nuʻuanu Valley.
A notable home is the “Walker Estate;” one of the few intact estates that were built in the upper Nuʻuanu Valley before and after the turn of the century (built in 1905,) it is a two story wood frame structure of Classical Revival style. (NPS)
The home on the 5.7-acre estate was initially built for the Rodiek family, a leading businessman in Honolulu. Due to war time pressures on the family, who were German citizens, the home was sold in 1918 to Wilcox who lived there into the 1930s, when it was taken over by Henry Alexander Walker, president and chairman of the Board of Amfac (one of the Hawaiʻi Big Five businesses.)
The grounds were originally used for orchards and vegetables, although the Japanese garden was put in shortly after the house was built and is thought to be the oldest formal Japanese garden in Hawaiʻi, the stones, lamps and images specially brought from Japan for it. (NPS)
Another notable home is former Governor George Carter’s “Lihiwai” (water’s edge.) In the late-1920s, Carter built his 26,000-square feet home; it is reportedly “the largest and finest private residence ever constructed in Hawaiʻi (with the exception of ʻIolani Palace.)” (NPS)
The entire building is built of shaped bluestone set in concrete and steel reinforced cement, and all the perimeter walls are 2 – 3-feet thick with the exception of the end walls, which are 6-feet thick. It is constructed entirely of bluestone, concrete, steel, copper, bronze and teak.
Originally, the building was connected to two smaller structures — by a breezeway on the eastern side and by the porte-cochere on the western side (these structures were separated in 1957.) The property was originally 10-acres, but portions were subdivided and sold in 1945 after the death of Helen Strong Carter. Today, the property includes the original house on a little over 1-acre. (The home is undergoing restoration.)
A home long gone, but we are repeatedly reminded of it in on-the-air marketing for senior living in Nuʻuanu, is “Craigside.” This was the home of Theophilus Harris Davies. Not only was Davies’ firm, Theo H Davies, one of the Hawaiʻi Big Five, he personally served as guardian to Princess Kaʻiulani while she was studying in England (Davies had another home there – “Sundown.”)
Likewise, just up the hill, was the Paty house “Buena Vista;” it’s now gone and part of the Wyllie Street interchange with Pali Highway. (Look for the parallel palms in the yard of the immediately-makai ‘Community Church of Honolulu.’ They used to line the Paty driveway, with the house off to the left (mauka.)
During the Spanish American War, the military took over Buena Vista and turned it into the Nuʻuanu Valley Military Hospital (also known as “Buena Vista Hospital.”)
Just mauka of Buena Vista (now also part of the Wyllie-Nuʻuanu interchange) was Robert Crichton Wyllie’ “Rosebank.” Wyllie first worked as acting British Consul. Attracted by Wyllie’s devotion to the affairs of Hawaiʻi, in 1845, King Kamehameha III appointed him the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Kamehameha IV reappointed all the ministers who were in office when Kamehameha III died, including Robert C Wyllie as Minister of Foreign Relations (he was in Hawaiʻi from 1844 until his death in 1865.) Wyllie served as Minister of Foreign Relations from 1845 until his death in 1865, serving under Kamehameha III, Kamehameha IV and Kamehameha V.
Finally, a home of a missionary, Dr. Gerrit Parmele Judd, “Sweet Home” was located at the intersection of Nuʻuanu and Judd. Judd was in the 3rd company of missionaries from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (he was in Hawaiʻi from 1828 until his death in 1873.) After serving the mission for 15-years, Judd was translator and later Minister of Foreign Affairs, member of the House of Nobles and Privy Council, and Minister of Finance under Kamehameha III.
Wife Laura Judd once noted, “we were supposed to be rich,” but insisted they had never been so poor, being obliged to borrow money to pay for carpenters and masons. (Scott, Saga) The house was torn down in 1911 and the property became part of what is now Oʻahu Cemetery.