Over the years, Bruce spent time on Lāna‘i—both onshore and offshore—and says he fell in love with the island, particularly the area where his home now sits. He recalls passing by the spot dozens of times, always gazing at it longingly and saying: “Someday, somehow, I’ll live there.”
So, when the 1.2-acre property went up for sale fourteen years ago, it was as if the stars had aligned. The vacant parcel required a great deal of work: its rocky hillside was riddled with ankle-twisting holes and prickly kiawe trees. “A lot of people thought it was too challenging,” Bruce acknowledges. But he had experience in construction—and friends in the industry—so he took a different perspective. Literally. One day, he brought a buddy to the site, and they fought their way to the top of the hill. They stood side-by-side on a large rock—their ankles throbbing and arms bleeding from kiawe thorns—and looked out at Mānele Bay. “Is it doable?” Bruce asked. His friend replied: “Definitely.”
A few weeks later, Bruce broke ground on the home of his dreams. His earlier projects had been renovations; this was the first time he’d design and build something from scratch. He consulted local contractors Sandy Stein and Ken Iboshi, and called in favors from three of his best friends: Maui craftsmen Brad Smith, Steve “Mango” Mazingo, and Selwyn Bate. “This was a project of love—we all worked as a team,” he says.
When it came to the design, Bruce says he was inspired by renowned Hawai‘i architect Charles W. Dickey, the early-twentieth-century mastermind behind some of the islands’ most famous buildings, including the Wailuku Public Library, Makawao Union Church, and the Territorial Office Building in Wailuku. Bruce was drawn to the late architect’s signature split-pitched roofs (colloquially known as the “Dickey roof”) and his penchant for open living spaces.
He says the concept of watertight integrity was also top of mind. (For the nautically uninitiated, “watertight integrity” refers to building a ship in such a way that water cannot penetrate it.) With structural elements like steel girders, and concrete pillars set six feet into the ground, the house was built to withstand gale-force winds, floods and earthquakes (in fact, when a 6.7-magnitude tremor rocked Hawai‘i in 2006, no one inside the home felt it). Bruce chose red cedar for the exterior, not just for its aesthetic appeal, but also for its rot- and pest-resistant properties. “I may have gone a bit overboard,” he says, winking at the pun. “But nothing is going to move this thing.”