After Kāne created the spring at Kapunahou, Kanaloa suggested that they return to their home at Kōnāhuanui. They traveled through Mānoa over ‘Aihualama to the heights of Pu‘u o Mānoa (Rocky Hill) onto the plains to the land of Kulumalu (also Kaulumalu or Ka ‘Ulumalu) “the shade of the breadfruit.”
Kulumalu was oʻioʻina o nā akua, the rest temple of the gods and the place where the food for the gods was cooked. According to legends, the menehune built a fort and a temple at the top of the hill ‘Ulumalu.
A hill labeled “Ulumalu” was plotted on the 1882 Baldwin map of Mānoa Valley on the west side of Mānoa Road. This map also shows that the hill was part of Grant 4166 to Mrs. Mary Castle.
In the late-nineteenth century, the Castles (descendants of an early missionary family) built a large estate on this hill, called Puʻuhonua. (Cultural Surveys)
‘Mother’ Castle was 81 when she moved into the great house with two middle-aged daughters. Her children, who by now all had homes of their own, thought to “add to the happiness of her few remaining years by building her a beautiful home.”
The 8.16 acres had been purchased at auction on May 12, 1898, for $6,250. A government survey station on the site had already been given a name from the past, Ulumalu. Many stone walls had to be erected.
One at the mauka end was built by a young engineer named John Wilson (long-time mayor of Honolulu), on his first job in Hawaii after graduating from Stanford. (In this same year he would be engineer in charge of the first carriage road over the Nuʻuanu Pali.) (Robb & Vicars)
One of the Castle sons, George (1851-1932), recalled “there being a beautiful grove of breadfruit and ʻōhia trees where native birds congregated in great numbers. The man who planted the grove was very old and I was a boy. Sand (volcanic cinders) came down … and choked the trees.”
Another son, William (1849-1935), gave the name Puʻuhonua to the property. Pu‘u (hill or protuberance) and honua (of earth; but also meaning a place set apart for refuge and safety.) (Robb & Vicars)
“The story is told that way back in the late-nineties when the Castle brothers were building the magnificent edifice as home for their mother, Mary Castle, the Hawaiian workmen digging the foundations had their picks snatched from their hands by the Pueos (owls) and at once ceased work on the sacred spot.”
“Mr George Castle, who remembers the incident, believes that the picks struck into (an) old cave”. (Bulletin of the Pan Pacific Union, April 1925)
A large roomy barn was constructed first (“room enough for three carriages”), and here Mrs Castle with her daughters Harriet and Caroline, and Isabella Fenwick, their housekeeper, moved from the Castle homestead at Kawailoa (610 S King Street) in March 1899 while the Manoa house was being built. (Robb & Vicars)
Built as home for ‘Mother’ Castle, they moved into the big house in the early part of 1900; it was the first building in the islands in which passenger elevator was installed.
There were a porte-cochere, an entrance way, a great hall, a library (15 by 21 feet,) a music room (19 by 26), and a lanai (20 by 20). The dining room (15 by 20) had its own fireplace. And also on the ground floor were sewing room, bath, laundry, pantry, kitchen, and storage rooms.
The hydraulic elevator rose to the second floor, where there were six bedrooms, a sitting room, linen closets and one supportive bathroom. A third floor had two bedrooms (16 by 19), a third (19 by 21), and a loggia to the east. This comes to more than 6,000 square feet, without counting the balconies.
“The outlook from Puʻuhonua (high above what is now Cooper Road) has always been called the millionaires’ view, and it is, for there is probably no such view in the islands as that from the lanais of the big building.”
“Looking mauka are the mountains of Upper Manoa, Konohua Nui and Olympus, towering 3000 feet, and ever may be seen the tumbling cascades and waterfalls over the evergreen precipices. In the foreground is hedge of night blooming cereus second only to that at Punahou, and beyond the great level taro patches of the valley.”
“Looking makai is majestic Diamond Head and the shimmering water of Waikiki seen over the waving tufts of the coconut trees, some of which, it is said, Kamehameha planted with his own hands when he landed for the first time on Oahu Island to subdue and rule it.” (Bulletin of the Pan Pacific Union, April 1925)
‘Mother’ Castle’s tenure of the Manoa house was not long. She died March 13, 1907, at 88 years. The next and different life of the house and area now commenced. It became the ‘Castle Home for Children’ on May 7, 1907.
Several cottages had been built on the property, with such names as Lodge, Gables, Chalet, Lanai (in one of these lived Miss Frances Lawrence, who was superintendent of “Free Kindergarten and Children’s Aid Association” (FKCAA) for many years.)
Mrs. Harriet Castle Coleman headed the FKCAA. She died in 1924 and FKCAA was told to close the orphanage. Percy M Pond, a well-known realtor, bought the property on May 23, 1924, and put in two new streets parallel to and above Manoa Road, the top street named Puʻuhonua, the other Kaulumalu (this eventually became an extension of Ferdinand Street.)
Pond made 40 lots on 3.2 acres on the lower portion. That became called Castle Terrace. The Castle home (Pu‘uhonua) then became the research center for the Pan-Pacific Union.
Alexander Hume Ford, director of the Pan-Pacific Union (who had also organized the Outrigger Canoe Club and the Trail and Mountain Club,) intended the property is to be used solely as the home of Pan-Pacific research institute, or college of graduates to “tackle the scientific problems of the Pacific peoples, especially those of food production, protection and conservation.”
“The assistant students will, it is expected, attend the University of Hawai‘i, where they will take their degrees. Two such students from the mainland now with scientific party here, are expected to be the first of such entries in the University of Hawaii with others to follow from lands across the Pacific.” (Bulletin of the Pan Pacific Union, September 1924)
In the following 16-years the Pan-Pacific Union became a sort of early “think tank” capable of providing “perfect quiet for study, remote from disturbances, with ample room for visiting scientists to live and work.”
Many other institutions were happy to cooperate. The Bishop Museum lodged research fellows there, often for a year at a time. There was one charge for the lodgers: a visitor was expected to give at least one of the weekly public lectures.
A Junior Science Council was added. In 1933 Ford wrote that “twenty students of all races and from many localities, members of the Pan-Pacific Student’s Club who are attending the University of Hawai‘i, are occupying the barn and carriage house in a cooperative housekeeping arrangement and working out in their own way ideas which may promote happier international relations.” (Robb & Vicars)
The big house was finally torn down in 1941. The other associated structures lay empty, and gradually they disintegrated. Termites had long been a problem.
Today, 79 owners share the original and lasting wonders of the legendary area: mountain and ocean views, a cool climate, just enough rain, frequent rainbows and sun-glinted waterfalls—all that Mother Castle had come to live with and enjoy in her last years. (Robb & Vicars)
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Barbara Del Piano says
I remember that house so well. As a young child, living on Kaaipu Street, I used to walk up there very often. It was my favorite place in all the world. The windows had been broken so it was easy to get in.
I remember the basement was covered with old issues of the magazine. I remember a button on the floor in the dining room that, when pressed, would alert the kitchen staff. The view was panoramic. On Halloween, it turned into the “Haunted House” and the neighborhood gang would walk up there and for that night only, it took on an eerie aura. I remember riding the bus home from school one day when I looked up and say the house being demolished. I burst into tears and when I got home, I begged my Aunt to stop them and buy the place. I have always remembered it as someplace so special in my life.