When it comes to Tropical Modernism, few cities can touch Honolulu. Its booming post-war era saw Midcentury Modern flourish in a way that was different from what was happening on the mainland. Innovative architects led the charge by adapting their modernist design aesthetic to Hawaii’s sultry climate resulting in an abundance of unique structures.
An exceptionally well preserved example of the Hawaii’s Tropical Modernism is the Liljestrand House, designed and built in 1952 by noted modernist architect Vladimir Ossipoff for Betty and Howard Liljestrand. It sits on a terraced parcel of secluded forest reserve on Mount Tantalus overlooking Honolulu.
Many of the interiors and furnishings were also designed by Ossipoff and have been meticulously preserved and/or restored, so much so that upon entering the home one might feel like they’ve walked into a time machine set for the 1950s. This isn’t just “retro,” it’s the real deal.
Occupied by the Liljestrands for over 60 years, the family created the Liljestrand Foundation in 2010 to help preserve the house, and in doing so have opened it up for public tours, educational activities and charitable events. The Liljestrand House is listed on both the Hawaii State and U.S. National Registers of Historic Places.
For an opportunity to tour this unique property check out the foundation’s website liljestrandhouse.org.
Ken MacIntyre is the creator and curator of Modtraveler.net, an Enthusiast’s Guide to Modernism. For more photos and stories of modernist destinations visit his website or follow Ken on Instagram @modtraveler.