In the 1940’s, Kona was “off the grid.” There was no electricity. Food was kept in “ice boxes” cooled with blocks of ice made in Kailua. Lighting was provided by kerosene lamps or Coleman lanterns. Drinking water was captured from the roof and stored a series of three redwood water tanks, the highest one being higher than the house so it could supply water pressure. Water for bathing was heated by a solar hot water heater that Robbie designed. It worked very well unless someone took too long in the shower. There was no heating or cooling system; instead the home was designed to face the ocean and be one room wide so that the sea breeze could cool it during the day and the mountain air could cool it at night. With the exception of some added fans, this aspect remains true to this day.
Today things have changed. We have a County water and sewer system, electricity, and natural gas, and have added a 50 inch flat screen television.
As you enter the front door, you are greeted by a portrait of Robbie painted by Jeanne Inglis, a member of the Royal Academy of Portrait Artists. Jeanne was Robbie’s nurse after he was very badly injured in the Battle of Highwood in WWI. In 1937, after Robbie became plantation manager, he went back to England and visited Ms. Inglis. He brought her some kapa (Hawaiian cloth). She painted his portrait and gave it to him. In the background of the portrait is his gift to her.
The house is full of pictures painted by Robbie and his pals.