I was fortunate to recently travel to Hawaii for business and while looking for a place to stay – away from the hustle and bustle of tourist-packed Waikiki – I was thrilled when I came across the beautiful Manoa Valley Inn.
Originally built in 1915 by an Iowa lumber baron named Milton Moore, the house was purchased by local businessman John Guild in 1919 and promptly remodeled. Not much is known today of the original Moore-era house and what is known has been pieced together from early aerial photographs of the island. Above and below are a couple of undated photos of the home with previous color schemes.
Guild’s renovation expanded the footprint of the home with the addition of four first-floor corner rooms, as well as adding the home’s signature beefy roof bracketing, porte-cochère and inset entry porch. An excerpt from the Inn’s National Register of Historic Places nomination form describes it as such:
“The John Guild Residence is architecturally significant for its use of eclectic elements which transformed this rather large, but straight-forward, bungalow into one of the more prestigious houses in the area. The original house with its noteworthy shingle treatment, which created alternating wide and narrow bandings on the façade, and its upper story bay windows and large dormer, was greatly embellished by the addition of heavy brackets, the four corner rooms and the porte-cochère.”
“Combining highly stylized bungaloid features with Queen Anne and Swiss Chalet motifs, the house presents a formidable architectural statement to the street. No other residence in Honolulu exhibits this combination of details, and the use of such heavy bracketing is unique in Honolulu to this house.”
It was for this architectural significance that the property was successfully added to both the Hawaiian and National Register of Historic Places.
Unfortunately for John Guild, upon completion of his major renovation of the home in 1919, he was only able to enjoy it for a short while. Guild, who was an executive at the powerful Hawaiian firm of Alexander & Baldwin, was convicted in 1922 of embezzling over $750,000 from the company (which is quite a story on its own!). As part of the settlement, the property was “sold” to Alexander & Baldwin for the sum of $1, and Guild spent his remaining years in prison, where he died quietly in 1927.
In 1925, a merchant by the name of Arthur J. Spitzer, and his wife Selma, purchased the property and lived there until the 1970s. In the 1980s, the founder of a local clothing company purchased it and opened it for business as “The John Guild Inn”. He later changed the name to its current moniker of “The Manoa Valley Inn”.
The Inn has since changed hands a few more times, and in late 2011 came under the present ownership of Jena Crawley and Mark Glen. Jena and her very welcoming and friendly family run the day-to-day operations of the Inn and also live on-site.
The house itself offers multiple areas for relaxing and affords guests ample opportunity to mingle. The back of the the Inn looks out over Waikiki, and you can even catch a glimpse of Diamond Head (below center). The lanai (above) is an inviting space where a hearty breakfast is served daily.
Also in the back garden is a lagoon-like salt-water swimming pool (below) complete with a custom waterfall and thatch-roof cabana.
There were once several other large estate homes in the neighborhood, but few still exist. That fact is never more obvious than when you turn the corner and first lay eyes on the Inn’s distinctive façade. The driveway approach welcomes you in, and the presence of a gold 1930s Terraplane (below, in foreground) seems to transport you back in time.
The Terraplane was a car made in Detroit by the Hudson Motor Car Company between 1932 and 1938. The car belongs to Mark Glen, co-owner of the Inn, and (when he’s not driving it) it’s always parked right out front where it immeasurably adds to the nostalgia of the property.
The inset entryway (below) that I mentioned earlier is a cozy spot that beckons weary travelers arriving from long international flights.
A generous seating area (above) gives way to french doors that open into the home’s central hall (below). While the exterior of the home mainly exhibits craftsman style features, the interior is decidedly Victorian. Original wallpaper covers most of the walls in the house and is complimented by authentic European antiques along with “a bit of island flair.”
Another set of french doors at the far end of the hall (above) open out to the aforementioned lanai (below) with its views of Waikiki.
Looking back into the hall from the lanai (below left) the grand staircase leads up to the Inn’s seven guest rooms. At the top of the stairs is a large stained glass window (below right) with a flower motif that looks into the room I stayed in…
The John Guild Master Suite was, not surprisingly, the private quarters of John Guild and his wife when they lived on the property. The suite has three spacious rooms: the sitting room (below) – with its large bay window situated directly above the home’s porte-cochère – the Guild bedroom, and a generously sized bathroom that features both a soaking tub and a separate walk-in shower, both of which are surrounded by original tile.
The bedroom’s dominant feature (below) is a gorgeous king-size bed. All of the room’s furniture, including the bed, dual nightstands, and a matching dresser are antiques originally from Belgium.
The second floor hallway (below left) provides access to four guest rooms, and another grand staircase leads up to an additional three guest rooms on the third floor. At the far end of the hallway, a sitting room (below right) looks out over the garden and pool and beyond to Waikiki.
Named after the home’s original owner, The Moore Room (below) features more fine European antiques.
There are seven guests rooms in all, each with its own charm and unique furnishings from an era long since passed. Renowned Hawaiian artist Jack Adams captured the Inn’s timeless essence in his beautiful watercolor piece “Reflections of a Gracious Heritage” (below).
Whether coming to Hawaii on business or holiday, The Manoa Valley Inn offers unique accommodations for the discerning traveler. Set in a quiet, tropical landscape, all of Oahu’s activities are at your fingertips. If you’re looking for a tranquil alternative to Waikiki’s impersonal mega-hotels and want to experience old-world Honolulu like a local, you’ll definitely enjoy The Manoa Valley Inn.
Special thanks to Monica, who took the time to give me the rundown on the history of the Inn and made me feel like part of the family during my stay…Mahalo!
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