Ward Castle is located on the big island of Kona, Hawaii along the stretch of mountain known for growing coffee in the small community of Keauhou Mauka.
Known locally as Poho Kala Ranch, which means “no money” the estate now encompasses over 600 acres of lush tropical forest overlooking the pacific ocean. The primary use of the ranch has been to raise beef cattle, but more importantly to provide a place of refuge for one of hawaii’s most elusive and private families.
Cenric and Maude Woods Wodehouse lived a quiet life as Big Island ranchers. Maude Wodehouse married Cenric N. Wodehouse in 1934, a year after her graduation from Punhou School. Her husband was the grandson of Victoria Ward, wealthy Honolulu land barons and decendants of hawaiian royalty.
A gracious lady, Maude gave generously for many years, including a $500,000 donation to Kona Hospital and multiple donations to Hospice of Kona. Although she and her husband had no children, they contributed much to education over the years, specifically teachers salaries and left a an endowment of more than $122 million to the benefit of several Hawaiian community organizations and schools.
The Cenric Wodehouse Estate was a social focal point for the prominent from across the state of Hawaii when visiting the Big Island. The property was purchased in 1947 and enjoys a colorful past, resembling a vintage French Farm House with Tower, designed by renowned Russian-born, Berkley-educated, architect, Vladimir Ossipoff.
Vladimir Ossipoff is a legend in Hawaii. He was born November 25, 1907 in Vladivostok, Russia, but grew up in Tokyo, Japan where his father was a military attache of the Russian czar and emigrated to the United States in 1923.
After the overthrow of the czar, the Japanese government refused to recognize the Bolsheviks, so Ossipoff’s family stayed at the embassy in Tokyo for a few years. Following the great Tokyo earthquake of 1923, which leveled much of the city, Ossipoff, with his mother and siblings, moved to Berkeley, California where he studied architecture. After graduating in 1931, he went to Hawaii to visit a classmate and landed a job as head of the home-building department for one of the sugar companies. Soon afterward, he began to establish himself as an architect.
For more than 60 years, Ossipoff designed and built hundreds of houses, creating a unique form of place-making architecture that was relevant to the lush tropical landscapes of the Hawaiian Islands. Ossipoff used commonsense strategies of orientation, natural ventilation, microclimates, and local materials—what is now referred to as sustainable development-using local materials and nature itself to style homes. Synthesizing Eastern and Western influences, Ossipoff drew on Japanese craftsmanship and modern architectural techniques.
It was said in the early 1960s that he carried on a “War on Ugliness” as a counter struggle to what he felt was poor architectural design and unrestricted development of Honolulu. Quoting Ossipoff: “‘Architecture is like choreography. You choreograph one’s movement through a space.’” He would always draw the floor plan with the site plan and often said, ‘We never design just the floor plan, we design the site; that’s how you merge inside with outside.’” He died October 1, 1998 in Honolulu.
One of Vladimirs’ first commissions was for the Wodehouse family, who were intent of constructing a private retreat after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during WWII. The 1953 home features mahogany floors and three fireplaces; one quite large in the great hall, one in the study and another in the game room/bar area.
The generous landscaped grounds outside the rock walls lead to the cattle ranch that includes a stable, out buildings and large water reservoir.
Wild tropical flowers adorn the landscaping surrounding the home offering a beautiful Hawaiian ambiance.
A huge walled court yard is central to the home and has been used for social gatherings and family alike.
The castle also comes with a secret passageway behind a thick built-in bookshelf that is the entrance door to the hidden master suite and tower—both located on the ocean side of the estate.
Ward Castle is a remembrance of proud royalty decendants who endured a violent struggle for statehood, Pearl Harbor and rapid development of the once pristine tropical island. Hawaii’s future is linked to this historic ranch and by the Ward family whose generosity and compassion built Hawaii and their love of “aloha” built a true Hawaiian paradise.