The History of Puamana
The old Hawaiian name for the general Puamana area was “Kauapaupili”. One translation of the name is “The place where the rain stops”, derived from the fact that there is frequently a weather dividing line here. Another translation given to us was “Mist that comes down from the mountain”.
Before 1920 the area presently called Puamana was used chiefly for sugar cane, although there were some individual holdings. Dallas Kalepa, life-long Lahaina resident, recalls that his uncle owned 4 1/2 acres with a three room house on the spot where Building 43 is presently located (On the water, just over the foot bridge from the clubhouse). The streambed was in its natural state, trickling or dry in the summer and often flooding in the winter.
At this time, there was a cane train operating in the Lahaina area. At the site of our Building 240, (Third building in from Puamana Beach Park) there was a track down to the water to allow sand pickups for use in braking along the tracks. Keawe trees grew all along the beach.
A Mr. Kaonohi owned the area where the present clubhouse is located. In the early 1920’s, the Pioneer Mill made a land swap with Mr. Kaonohi, obtaining this property in exchange for land owned by the mill on the beach at Puunoa (The area just on the Lahaina side of the Buddhist statue). Up to that time, the manager of the Pioneer Mill Company in Lahaina had been supplied with a residence in the Puunoa area.
In 1923, the mill manager’s new residence, named “Kauapaupili”, was built at the considerable cost of $41,000. The residence was first occupied by Caleb Burns and his family. In 1933, Mr. Burns was transferred to Kauai, and the house was occupied by the new manager, John T. Moir, Jr. Mr. Moir added another bedroom (The current Dotti Miller Room) and also built the oceanfront swimming pool. The pool was originally shallower than the current pool and was filled with salt water. Subsequent manager to occupy the home included Karl Berg, Keith Tester and Dick Williamson.
Alice Uchiyama, formerly in charge of Puamana’s housekeeping services, was employed as the cook for the last three managers – a total of eighteen years in all. She and Tadao lived on the grounds in a house located where our Building 58 is currently located (The first oceanfront building on the Lahaina side of the Clubhouse). The hau tree, which grew by their home, is still standing. Alice and Tadao recall vividly “the way things were” during the time that the manager’s house was the gracious home and setting for many social activities. The following information came from them:
The drive entrance to the home was on Front Street, exactly where our tennis court is now located. There were carriage lamps on either side of the entrance. Front Street, at that time, continued straight through the present Puamana property. The large mango trees edged the street. Along the Front Street side of the property was a three-foot lava rock wall. Ginger, bamboo and hau trees grew along the wall providing privacy to the manager’s family and guests. Along the Lahaina side of the residence driveway were masses of torch ginger.
The front of the residence was wider in appearance than it is now. The guesthouse (Our cottage) was balanced on the other side with another covered walkway connecting a six-car garage, a storage room and an electrical control center. Beyond that building was a hot house.
Oceanfront houses were located along the Lahaina side of the property for the use of employees to include the cook, the maids, the stableman, the yardman and the mill office manager. There was also a boat shed on that side of the main house.
The tennis court was located on the Lahaina side of the drive entrance, at the current site of our Building 17. There were also changing rooms and showers in a nearby building. Stables housing three pleasure horses were located by the side of the stream, where our Building 64 is now located (Mauka side of the fish pond).
The gazebo was a focal point for entertaining and a bar would often be set up underneath the protective cover for large parties. The house lanai was not always completely paved; originally, there was gravel in the center portion around the fountain.
Close your eyes and see if you can imagine the interior of the house as it was:
The living room/entry room – our present lobby area.
The dining room (connected by a pantry to the kitchen) – our current office.
The kitchen – our current kitchen. The Testers modernized the kitchen, replacing the wood-cooking stove. A new remodel was done in 2002.
The living room/den – our present library.
The “in-house” guest room – our present bar.
The laundry – the oceanside portion of the new kitchen area.
The wine cellar – located under the seating portion of the new kitchen.
The master bedroom – our present General Manager’s master bedroom.
Other bedrooms – our present exercise room and General Manager’s bathrooms and second bedroom.
The entire upstairs center section of the building was an open family room. Only a low divider marked a hallway area on the lanai side.
In 1966, at the time that Mr. Williamson retired, “Kauapaupili” was sold for development. The clubhouse briefly carried the name “Makila Beach Club” before renaming it the “Puamana-Lahaina Surf and Racquet Club”. Although the idea was never instituted, the developers initially planned to have a snack bar and souvenir shop where our bar is currently situated.
The name “Puamana” was probably chosen by developers Lewers and Cooke because of the beautiful song “Puamana”. Puamana was the name of the original Charles Farden home located on Front Street. That location is currently the third lot south of the Lahaina Shores condominium. It was in this home that Charlie and Annie Farden raised their twelve children – a circle of real Hawaiian aloha. One of the children, Emma Farden Sharp, has become Maui’s very special musical ambassador, “Auntie Emma”. The early days in the Farden home inspired another daughter, Irmgard Farden Aluli, to write the song about their home. The name “Puamana” translates from Hawaiian to mean the “Majestic Flower” or “The Flower That Has Power”. The translation dates back to a time is was applied to an Hawaiian chief who lived nearby. It was said that he was always able to help his people, at any time or in any place or with any sort of trouble. He was their “flower” or “son” who had the power to help in time of need.
During the development of the Puamana home sites area, a land swap was effected with the County of Maui. The piece of land where Puamana Park is currently located was given to the County in exchange for the length of Front Street that cut through the planned development. Front Street was then extended to intersect the current Honoapiilani Highway just beyond the current Puamana driving entrance. An initial investment of $87,000 was spent by the developers for furnishings and a minor remodeling of the Clubhouse. More recently, a major renovation of the second floor Lahaina side of the Clubhouse was completed as the General Manager’s unit. Plans for the future restoration of the remaining portions of the Clubhouse are being developed.