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Reinventing Waimea’s Historic Spencer House

Historic Spencer House
Historic Spencer House

Historic Spencer House, Photo Courtesy of Facebook

For the past few months the Waimea Preservation Association has been implementing plans to revitalize the historical Spencer House, in Waimea.  After much discussion they have decided to reinvent the 150+ year-old building as a welcome center, gathering place, innovation center, and event space.  They are currently looking for volunteers and donations to move this plan forward.

The Spencer House has always had a special place in my heart because we had the offices of MacArthur Sotheby’s International Realty there for 22 years.  We were the longest running tenant in the space and it’s great to know that the space will now be used as a nonprofit center.  (We moved to our current location, Parker Square, in 2011.)

The Spencer house was built by Captain French in the 1840s and is the oldest framed building in Waimea.  Frances MacFarland Spencer gave the house its name when he married the daughter of the Bickertons who operated a popular inn, often frequented by Hawaiian royalty such as King Kalakaua, Queen Lili’uokalani, and Princess Ka’iulani.  Some have said that even Mark Twain stayed at the Spencer House in 1866 around the same time he stayed at the Volcano House, but this has not been confirmed.

MacArthur Spencer House Logo

MacArthur Spencer House Logo

The Waimea Preservation Association has been collecting historic pictures of the house and Waimea with the idea that the new visitor center will be an archive where both locals and visitors can learn about the traditions and cultures of the Big Island.  There are many details in the house which already tell the story of a distant era.  On the glass of the French doors which used to grace the entry to our offices is etched, “Boy Blue Nov 5 1888.”  No one knows for sure who inscribed the glass, but it is said that Prince Kuhio may have done it.

During 2014 we should see a lot of changes as the Spencer House is repurposed for the 21St century.  While creating a center and gathering place is the project’s first phase, the second phase is to create a co-working space.  Unlike a traditional office a co-working space is shared by multiple tenants.  This type of arrangements often leads to collaboration between parties and new innovations and ideas.

If you’d like more information about the Spencer House or would like to make a donation, please visit www.waimeapreservation.org.

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