At Home: Untouched by Time

A historic Olinda home is a portal to the past.

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Olinda home
Despite its vintage appearance, the kitchen is stocked with all the appliances and accessories you’d expect in a residence designed for entertaining.

Awash in white, the kitchen looks like a Hollywood film set from the 1930s—but it’s the real thing. There’s an old-fashioned butler’s pantry, built-in china cabinets filled with vintage kitchenware, a metal juicer affixed to the wall, and a wire-and-mesh pie safe in the adjoining cold room, which was used to store food during the summer months.

But it’s likely the home’s six bedrooms have left the greatest impression on visitors.

Ethel painted one upstairs bedroom baby blue, a second dusty rose, a third golden yellow, and the fourth a neutral white. Claire says that for as long as she can remember, they were simply called the “pink room,” “blue room,” “yellow room,” and “hikie‘e room”—so named for its oversized bed. (Hikie‘e means a large Hawaiian couch.) The photo below shows the home circa 1947.

Claire says that on every family trip to Olinda, as the car slowly made its way down the carriage driveway that threads through the porte cochère, she and her siblings would stealthily plot their mad dash into the house to claim their rooms. “We had our favorites,” she says. “Each had its own personality.”

There are two bedrooms on the first floor, four on the second, all furnished with antiques and framed family photos in sepia or black and white. Each bedroom has a kerosene lamp—there are no televisions, computers or modems anywhere. That, too, is a throwback to earlier times: the kitchen was wired for electricity in 1945; it took a quarter of a century more for the rest of house. “We [kids] loved carrying candles around at night, so when we found out the whole house would have electricity, there was a formal protest,” Claire laughs.

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