At Home: Untouched by Time

A historic Olinda home is a portal to the past.


Story by Sarah Ruppenthal

olinda home
There’s no place like a historic home for the holidays. Generations of memories live in this 106-year-old Upcountry dwelling. / Photograph by Ryan Siphers

Claire Sanford’s vacation home looks like it’s from another era. And it is. For generations, her family has kept the 106-year-old dwelling in Olinda virtually unchanged.

This black-and-white photo was taken not long after Harry and Ethel Baldwin built this family vacation home in Olinda.
Olinda Maui Home
More than a century later, little has changed—outside or in. An accomplished and versatile artist (her media ranged from pastels and acrylics to silver holloware), Ethel brought that aesthetic eye to designing the home’s décor.

An SUV parked under a towering eucalyptus and a pair of sneakers on the veranda remind visitors that they haven’t been transported back to the early 1900s à la H.G. Wells. Otherwise, the impeccably maintained home seems to be in suspended animation: you could easily picture women in flapper dresses and men in bow ties and fedoras arriving for a glamorous, champagne-filled New Year’s Eve party.

In 1877, Sam Alexander—one-half of the Alexander & Baldwin sugar-growing partnership—purchased a sprawling parcel of land on the northern slope of Haleakalā. Smitten by the pastoral surroundings, Sam named the area Olinda, which means “oh, beautiful” in Portuguese. In 1888, Sam sold the property to his friend and business partner, Henry Perrine Baldwin, and Henry’s wife, Emily.

After Henry’s death in 1911, his son and daughter-in-law, Harry and Ethel Baldwin, decided to build the two-story, 4,500-square-foot cedar-wood vacation home that now sits on the sixty-acre property bordering the vast rangelands of Haleakalā Ranch.

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