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Ward Plantation

Aug 25, 2015

Ward Wednesdays: The Close Of A Chapter

'O Ke'alekūpuna ke kilo, nāna nō e kuhikuhi nei i ke ala e naue aku ai.

The pathways once traversed by our ancestors are the same paths that we should follow toward success. Just as Victoria Ward cared for her beloved land, so to do we; following in her footsteps to preserve her unique heritage.

Join us for Ward Wednesdays–a series of blogs where we recount the stories of old and immerse ourselves in the history of Victoria Ward and her 'ohana.

When Victoria Ward peacefully passed away at her home in Honolulu in 1935, just a hair shy of her 89th birthday, the responsibilities of running her growing business and estate were largely taken up by her daughters, Lucy and Kathleen, who along with their sister Kulamanu, continued to make their home at Old Plantation.

To be sure, running the growing family business was no easy task in and of itself, and keeping the enterprise up to the standards of their mother was a high bar to say the least. But when challenged with this endeavor, both Kathleen and Lucy rose to the occasion and played a crucial role in the company.

Two Ward sisters, Mellie and Kulamanu, prepare for a ride wrapped in pa'u, thick riding skirts that kept the girls warm and served as a layer of protection.

In a cottage tucked away from the main home at Old Plantation, the sister erected the first Victoria Ward Limited corporate office. With Kathleen serving as president of the business and Lucy as secretary and treasurer, the business continued to evolve where the duo, along with a team of advisers, began exploring more real estate ventures.

It should come as no surprise that Kathleen and Lucy would take the helm. From an early age, Kathleen worked closely with her mother to keep record of the family business. It's been said that, as early as 1911, Kathleen's handwriting can be seen on the family ledger, meticulously dictating the prices of coconuts, chicken, fish, and firewood, which was sold from their home at Old Plantation. When she took over as president of the business, with her keen attention to detail, Kathleen kept a tight record and ensured that the inner workings of the expanding business were airtight.

The back of Old Plantation, where the family would often entertain guests.

Lucy Ward, with her love of animals and cavalier approach to life, was a natural-born leader. Prior to taking on the business or running the family estate after her mother passed, Lucy was instrumental in the creation of the Hawaiian Humane Society and quite literally patrolled the streets of Waikīkī to ensure that wayward teenagers weren't up to anything shady. The phrase "You better watch out, or Lucy Ward will get you" was commonly heard after midnight in Honolulu.

Time began to take its toll on Old Plantation and the three sisters who remained on at the home. Occasionally, all the way up until the 1950s, they were spotted dining over Chinese food or running errands, but for the most part, their presence in the city began to fade. The running of the business was gradually transitioned away to a new set of advisors. In 1957, the city purchased Old Plantation from the aging sisters with plans on tearing it down to erect the Neal Blaisdell Center. Prior to the demolition of Old Plantation, the city opened up the home to the public for tours and an outcry of support to retain the building flooded officials. However, it was in vain. Soon, the bulldozers arrived. As one newspaper put it, "Wall by wall, the old house crumbled to the ground and yielded—at first reluctantly and then resignedly.

The front of the family home, which was torn down to make way for the soon-to-be erected Blaisdell Center.

The home that housed the Ward 'Ohana may have been dismantled, but the legacy of the family and their influence upon the city endures today.

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