I’ve rarely had the chance to admire the grandeur of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu since it opened in 1993. But now that Uncle Willie K and the Warehouse Blues Band will be doing a show there every Thursday, I have gotten another chance to see this beautiful part of Maui architectural history.
It’s pretty amazing that in 1988, the original owners of the property–Howard Hamamoto, Pundy Yokouchi and Takeshi Sekiguchi–travelled to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. There, at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation headquarters, they reviewed architectural plans for a new golf clubhouse they wanted to build. Wright had passed away almost 30 years prior, but the plans they chose (originally called “Crownfield”) were created for a couple’s home in Fort Worth Texas in 1949. The plans were never built, and were later altered for a Mexican official named Raul Bailleres in 1952 for a home in Acapulco Bay. But he also abandoned those plans to build.
When Marilyn Monroe and her then-husband Arthur Miller approached Wright about a home in 1957, he pulled the plans out again, customized them for land in Connecticut, and renamed it the “Marilyn Monroe Home.” But Monroe and Miller separated a year later and the home was never built. For Hamamoto, Yokouchi and Sekiguchi, the Marilyn Monroe House was for them.
The home had to be modified to fit its use as a golf clubhouse, and the structure grew from a 7,000 square foot plan to the 74,000 square-foot, tri-level building. Despite being built well after Wright’s passing, the plans came from the foundation and all customizations and modifications go through the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. That means it’s considered an authentic, and is officially certified by the foundation.
The distinct domed building is also filled with gorgeous art pieces, rooms with round windows and leaded glass skylights that Wright called “light screens.” The original architecture features bedrooms with cylindrical vaulted ceilings and a central circular living room with a skylight. In the clubhouse version, the central circular room is the elegant Waikapu Ballroom, with 180 degrees of windows. There you can see the slopes of Mauna Kahalawai and Haleakala and everything in between.
“The stage is built into the room, actually part of the living room configuration in the original plan,” says Pete Sebastian, Event & Catering Coordinator at the King Kamehameha Golf Club. “Basically the plans are 10 times larger than the original scale. The stage was a little alcove to the living room and fireplace. We have had to be true to the plans per the Frank Lloyd Wright estate. Every day I have walk-in visitors that are just admirers of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.”
When the plans started to come together for the opportunity to have a dinner show in this historic location, Willie K told organizers that it was important to keep this historic building preserved. “The King Kamehameha Golf Club has probably the only breathtaking spot on Maui that I know of that would be comparable to Villa Montalvo in Los Gatos, the Dodge Theater in Arizona and the Hollywood Bowl,” said Willie K in a press release from the club.
“I have my own personal reverence for the Marilyn Monroe House but then I’m reminded again what a special place this is,” says Sebastian. “I have been living here since the mid ‘90s and I’ve gone and seen Willie K so many times and I appreciated him as a talent then. You know you just have seen his career blossom and get to where it is now. He is a top entertainer Hawaii-wide. One of the things that he said is that he wants to set up a few key places in Hawaii to perform. When it comes to home on Maui, he would love to create this amazing show here at King Kamehameha Golf Club.”
The King Kamehameha Golf Club is inviting you to their show every Thursday with Uncle Willie K and the Warehouse Band, with the debut on July 23. This show will feature a seafood and prime rib buffet for the dinner and a show ticket for $60, or show-only options at $25. For more information, call 808-243-1025 or check online at Facebook.com/eventsmaui.
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