As you approach the building on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains, the silhouette of the King Kamehameha Golf Club clubhouse might remind you of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Marin County (California) Courthouse. However, if you thought the clubhouse is a derivative of the Marin County design, you’d be mistaken. The clubhouse has an interesting history that long predates the Marin County building.
The 75,000 sq ft clubhouse evolved from unrealized plans for a 7,000 sq ft luxury home for a couple in Forth Worth Texas in 1949. Two years later, Wright enlarged and adapted the design for another client, this time in Mexico for a site on the cliffs above Acapulco. Again, the house was never built. In 1957, he once more adapted the design for none other than Marilyn Monroe and her third and final husband Arthur Miller. Because of this, the clubhouse is sometimes called the “the Marilyn Monroe house.” The next year, before the house could be built, Monroe’s marriage to Miller ended in divorce. Wright died in 1959 and never saw the building except on paper and in his fertile mind.
Of course there is a huge difference between a large house and a 75,000 sq ft clubhouse, so much of the design is actually by Taliesan Architects who inherited the original concept and drawings from Wright. Nonetheless, the much expanded building includes many elements by the master himself – including a lovely staircase, expansive art glass, and an amazing elevator door. The overall design concept was preserved by putting two thirds of the expansion underground.
Seen from the entry on the Mauka side (literally the “mountain side” or “toward the mountains”) all resemplance to the Marin County Courthouse falls away.
Outside the front entrance is a 7 foot bronze statue, The Conch Blower, by Maui artist Dale Zarrella. Legend has it that the Pu (shell) of Waikapu could only be blown by warriors of particular merit. They say the shell’s call could be heard in Hana, 50 miles away. Those warriors must have had some powerful lungs!
Additional works of art by Dale Zarrella and other Maui artists can be seen inside the clubhouse, elsewhere on the grounds, and by visiting the golf club’s website (see link below).
Oh yes – you can golf too. While King Kamehameha Golf Club is Maui’s only private 18-hole course, you can buy a “guest for the day” pass and enjoy a round of golf in a spectacular setting.
To learn more about the King Kamehameha Golf Club – the Frank Lloyd Wright design, the club’s art collection and golfing opportunities – visit their website at http://www.kamehamehagolf.com/ To see our other posts about Dale Zarella, click here or, for a little wimsy, here.