Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mānoa Valley Inn

The first subdivision in Mānoa was the Seaview tract, in Lower Mānoa near Seaview Street, which was laid out in 1886 (this area in the valley became known as the "Chinese Beverly Hills" due to the high percentage of people of that ethnic group buying into the neighborhood (1950s.))  (DeLeon)

In 1888, the animal-powered tramcar service of Hawaiian Tramways ran track from downtown to Waikīkī. In 1900, the Tramway was taken over by the Honolulu Rapid Transit & Land Co (HRT.)

In addition to service to the core Honolulu communities, HRT expanded to serve other opportunities.  In the fall of 1901, a line was sent up into central Mānoa.  The new Mānoa trolley opened the valley to development and rushed it into the expansive new century.

Originally numerous large, well-designed houses lined Vancouver Drive; however with the passing of the years many of these dwellings have disappeared. One of approximately a half dozen remnants of the earlier time which are scattered in the area is the subject of this summary.

The lot and house had been previously owned by Benjamin Dillingham, founder of the Oahu Railway and Land Company; Richard Bickerton, Supreme Court Justice and Privy Council Member under Queen Liliʻuokalani; Grace Merrill, sister of Architect Charles Dickey, and wife of Arthur Merrill, principal of Mid Pacific Institute. (NPS)

The John Guild House, now known as Mānoa Valley Inn at 2001 Vancouver Drive, was purchased in 1919 by John Guild, a Honolulu businessman. It had been built four years earlier by Iowa lumber dealer Milton Moore and has been refurbished and restored several times over its lifespan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Predating Hawaiʻi zoning laws by some fifty years, the Seaview area was one of the first areas to impose restrictive covenants for design and view planes.  It is likely that this is the reason that John Guild remodeled an earlier house on this site, rather than rebuilding a new house.

Prior to the 1919 major remodeling, the Guild residence was a large two-story bungalow style house which featured brown shingles.  Guild added the large brackets, outset square projections, porte cochere and inset centered porch.

The house was purchased in the 1980s by Honolulu businessman Rick Ralston (the founder of Crazy Shirts), who restored it in 1982 for use as a bed and breakfast under the name John Guild Inn, later Mānoa Valley Inn.  Several other transactions followed.

It’s now a 4,424-square-foot, three-story gabled cottage near the campus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, operating as a bed and breakfast with six bedrooms, a suite and a small cottage and a broad, sheltered lanai with a view over the city on the sea side of the house.  The rooms are furnished with fine antiques.

Let’s go back to the home’s original namesake, John Guild.

Guild was born May 11, 1869, in Edinburgh, Scotland; he was son of James (a merchant of Edinburgh) and Mary (Scott) Guild.   After leaving school he went to join relatives interested in the sugarcane industry in the West Indies.  He married Mary Knox there on August 20, 1891; they had four children, Dorothy, Marjorie, Douglas Scott and Winifred.

He came to Hawaii 1897 and for short time was employed on Makaweli plantation; he later joined Alexander & Baldwin, then a co-partnership (incorporated 1900) and worked his way to being a Director and Secretary of A&B and in all the companies they represented.  He had quite a share in the development of the concern.

Guild’s prominent presence came to an abrupt end.

A New York Times headline tells the story: “ADMITS $750,000 Shortage; John Guild Manipulated Surplus Cash of Honolulu Firm”

“John Guild, formerly secretary and director of Alexander & Baldwin and honored member of the business and social communities of Honolulu is now No. E-512 in the Oahu penitentiary.  He is employed in garden work…”  (Maui News, August 29, 1922)

“(T)he grand jury found two true bills of indictment against him, one for embezzling bonds from the Episcopal Church and the other for embezzling $37,000 from Alexander & Baldwin in 1917.”

“On Saturday morning Guild was taken before Judge Banks and pleaded guilty to both indictments.  He was sentenced to serve in the Oahu penitentiary at hard labor two terms of not less than five nor more than ten years, to run consecutively.”

“This would mean that with allowance for good behavior he may be released in between seven and eight years, if he lives to finish his sentence.”  (Maui News, August 29, 1922)

Only two indictments were issued, “though more than a hundred might have been more were claimed.”  It was reported that the A&B books showed that Guild’s embezzlement was in excess of a million dollars.

The house was sold to the company for $1 and Guild was sent to prison where he died in 1927.  In 1925, merchant Arthur J Spitzer and his wife Selma purchased the house. They lived here until 1970.

The house later fell on hard times and was used as a student rooming house. The building was scheduled for demolition in 1978, when it was bought and renovated by Ralston and continues to be a very active bed and breakfast.

The image shows the former John Guild house, now the Mānoa Valley Inn.  I have added other images to a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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