Henry Birkmyre and the Birkmyre Estate

Born and educated in Scotland, Henry Birkmyre (1867-1944) was a son of Henry Birkmyre Sr., a wealthy manufacturer and seller of rope, canvas and other ship supplies.

When his father retired, he and his brother, William, became co-managers of Henry Sr.’s business. But, not for long, for in 1888 — for some inexplicable reason — Henry Birkmyre left the management of the firm to his brother, boarded a ship at Liverpool, England and sailed off to Hawaii, where he forged a long, successful career for himself in the sugar industry.

Soon after his arrival, Birkmyre joined Kilauea Sugar Plantation, Kauai as an overseer and was promoted to head overseer there before moving on to Kipahulu Sugar Co., Maui in 1894.

A year later, he was with Pioneer Mill Co. on Maui as a section overseer and supervisor of fertilizer operations.

Then for five years, beginning in 1901, he worked as a self-employed commercial fisherman at Hanalei, Kauai, prior to returning to Kilauea Sugar Plantation.

He retired from the sugar business in 1920.

In 1912, he and his first wife, Maude, purchased acreage from Paalua Danson Kellett atop the Hanalei River Ridge near the mouth of the Hanalei River. They then built a home on their property that, in 1957, served as the fictional residence of middle-aged expatriate French planter Emile De Becque (played by actor Rossano Brazzi) during filming of the musical “South Pacific.”

The Birkmyre estate was sold by Henry’s second wife, Miriam, to make way for the Hanalei Plantation Hotel, which opened in 1961.

During the 11 years that Hanalei Plantation Hotel was in operation, the Birkmyre home was relocated twice on its property.

Club Mediterranean occupied the property from 1972 to 1979, when Stark Development took over.

Stark Development then leveled the area — including the Birkmyre home — in anticipation of building condos, but its venture failed in 1982.

Today, brush, ironwood and abandoned concrete foundations cover the old Kellett and Birkmyre estates.

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