The most amazing “wedding gift” in Manoa


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When was the last time your boss gave you a really awesome gift? Apparently Benjamin Franklin Dillingham, who founded Oahu Railway and Land Company, was either a great boss or his servant was amazing: in 1900, Dillingham gave his servant Charlotte Erickson an estate in Manoa as a wedding gift.

The original two-bedroom, one-bath Dutch Colonial cottage on the 1-acre hillside lot was designed by Oliver Green Traphagen before he started work as the architect of the famous Moana Surfrider Hotel. Over time, the lot was sectioned off and sold, but it’s still huge at 15,984 square feet.

Alas, the lore of the home as a wedding gift—although it sounds romantic—wasn't as generous as it seemed. Dillingham presented Erickson with both the property and its mortgage for her wedding (perhaps it wasn't so awesome after all). Erickson and her husband, druggist August Meyer, sold the home in 1904.

Interestingly enough, back then, its address was on Adolf St. The home's most longtime owner, pictured above, was named William Furer, who rented it in 1917 and bought it in 1925. As you might guess, the concept of Furers living on Adolf St. in the early 1900s (or any time, for that matter) wasn’t too cool, so Furer and a Jewish neighbor petitioned for a street name change in the 1940s with no opposition. The street was renamed Aleo Place, or "high lookout."

When you walk in, you literally step back in time, as the first room has the same dining table, storage hutch and wall mirror in the same place they’ve been for decades. Although most of the house is completely refinished and restored, there are various little touches to remind you of yesteryear, like the workshop, the gun closet, and the hidden hallways.

As you walk through the house, you’ll find it’s a maze of rooms, Harry Potter closets, hallways and stairways. I couldn’t find my way through the entire property, but I managed to tour the main, 7,638-square-foot, four-bedroom, 4.5 bathroom home without a guide.

There are also some unfinished pieces to the home—hidden in the maze—that the last two owners meant to turn into media or exercise rooms, but never got around to it. They are fitted with electrical outlets and basic foundations, but just need to be finished. If nothing else, you can use the rooms as storage, but that would be a waste of interesting space.

The rest of the property includes a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment; a separately metered one-bedroom cottage; and a caretaker/rental studio attached to the garage.

The home is on the Historic Register, so you will need to ensure it’s maintained for preservation, but the property taxes are just $300 a year. Click here for more information on the listing.

And if your boss ever asks you what you want for your birthday…

Money talk: $2,695,000 fee simple
Contact: Nancee Jenko Crispin, RE/MAX Honolulu, 808-951-3224, Nancee@houseinhawaii.com

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