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Upper Nuuanu…A Showcase Of Classic Hawaii Homes

The landmark Clarence Hyde Cooke Estate. Photo by Phil Spalding III

A neighborhood of exceptional natural beauty, upper Nuuanu is the setting of numerous distinguished homes designed by prominent architects for kamaaina families. It was also the summer retreat of Hawaiian royalty. The area was favored not only for the dramatic views of lush vegetation and forested hillsides, but also for its cool upland climate. Additionally, large parcels of undeveloped land were available in upper Nuuanu Valley, which, though remote from the city in terms of its rural ambiance, is only a few miles from downtown Honolulu.

One of Hawaii’s architectural treasures, a home on Old Pali Road designed for Clarence Hyde Cooke in 1928 by celebrated architect Hardie Phillip, has been placed on the market by the current owner. A botanist and art collector, he has made it his personal mission to preserve this one-of-a-kind estate listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Phillip is best known for his work on the C. Brewer Building in downtown Honolulu and the Honolulu Academy of Arts, both projects of the New York-based architectural firm headed up by Bertram Goodhue. Phillip, a principal of the firm, completed both projects on the death of Goodhue, who had been personally chosen to design the Honolulu Academy of Arts by its benefactors, the Cooke family.

Clarence Hyde Cooke was the son of Honolulu Academy of Arts founder Anna Rice Cooke and Bank of Hawaii founder Charles Montague Cooke. His grandfather Amos Starr Cooke, who came to Hawaii from New England as a missionary, co-founded the firm of Castle & Cooke together with Samuel Northrup Castle.

In 1909, Clarence Cooke succeeded his father as president of Bank of Hawaii and became chairman in 1937. He bequeathed his Old Pali Road home to the Honolulu Academy of Arts, which sold it in 1945 to then Territorial Land Commissioner Lester Marks and his wife Elizabeth McCandless, hence the home is often referred to as the “Marks Estate.”

Philip Spalding III recalls visiting the estate as a child. “Our family gatherings were often held at Uncle Clarence’s house. The Cookes had lots of children, and they were allowed to wander around the huge mansion and go out on the property and explore. A stream ran through the gardens…it seemed like a magical world.”

The 4.74 acre estate includes a 24-room Hawaii-style brick and frame mansion, a carriage house, gate house, pool house, and swimming pool. The estate is offered at $8,225,000 by Realtors David Dickey and Alisa Nakamoto of Century 21 All Islands.

A classic Nuuanu Valley residence designed by noted Hawaii architect George Vincent Hogan has also become available. During his 50-year career in Hawaii, Hogan produced an impressive body of work ranging from commercial structures, such as the Pan Am Building and the Halekulani Hotel’s House Without A Key, to the palatial Casa Blanca Del Mar in Kahala, which once commanded the highest price on record for a single family home, $21 million.

However, many of his smaller, more intimate residences, such as this 50-year-old Poli Hiwa Place home, are what he is now best known for. Characteristic of Hogan’s style, the home is integrated with the natural landscape taking advantage of the amenities of the area, such as views and natural ventilation, and incorporates various Asian design elements. Located in a small pocket neighborhood with six homes just off Nuuanu Pali Drive and bordered by the Morgan Estate and Preservation land, the property is uniquely landscaped with a walking path encircling a natural running spring. Prudential Advantage Realty Realtor Daniel Ihara has listed the home for $1,495,000.

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