A Grand Dame Turns 100

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Story by Heidi Pool

Hui Maui 1920
Kaluanui Estate circa 1920.

Today we know Kaluanui Estate in Makawao as home to Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center, but in 1917, it was home to Ethel and Harry Baldwin, and their daughter, Frances. Harry’s cousin, famed architect Charles W. Dickey, designed the mansion (with significant input from Ethel), incorporating Mediterranean-inspired elements popular at that time: red-tile roof, arched windows, stucco exterior, and an expansive courtyard. The twenty-five-acre property was once the site of East Maui Plantation Company. Kaluanui, Hawaiian for “the big pit,” was also the name of the surrounding area, and likely referred to adjacent Māliko Gulch.

Ethel possessed a talent for the creative arts: crocheting, knitting, painting, ceramics, drawing, and later silversmithing, which she learned in San Francisco. She also enjoyed tending her abundant flower gardens. Laurel Murphy, a Baldwin Family biographer, says Ethel provided cut flowers for services at Makawao Union Church every Sunday. “Ethel was also a consummate hostess, creating luncheons based on color-coordinated themes, like her ‘white theme,’ where she served squab and vanilla ice cream on crystal dishes, and surrounded her guests with fragrant white flowers from her garden.”

Harry was one of the first persons on Maui to own an automobile. “When Harry and Ethel moved into Kaluanui, he had a Stutz Bearcat sports car — which Frances drove to high school a couple of times, picking up friends along the way, and giving them a thrill,” says Laurel.

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