Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Goodsill Residence

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The central courtyard of the Goodsill Residence by Vladimir Ossipoff (1953). Photo ©Darren Bradley

While recently in Honolulu, I had the rare treat of visiting another home designed by renowned Honolulu architect Vladimir Ossipoff. I've had the chance to visit and stay in several of his homes around Hawaii over the years, and have also blogged earlier about my friend Bob Liljestrand's stunning house. Every time I'm back in the islands, I try to see at least one more. This time, I finally got to see the Goodsill House. 


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The pool at the Goodsill House is actually in the front yard, facing the street. But it's still fairly private. Note the Japanese-like pavilion behind, which is characteristic of Ossipoff's style. Photo ©Darren Bradley

I first learned about the Goodsill Residence from the exhibition on Ossipoff's work that was curated by Dean Sakamoto at Honolulu Academy of Arts back in 1997. Photos of the house and that celebrated lanai feature prominently in the show and accompanying book. 


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The book by Dean Sakamoto that accompanied the show went out of print quickly and for years was listed for crazy expensive prices on the interwebz. But Yale University Press has now issued a reprint so you no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars for the book. 


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This photo of the Goodsill House by Victoria Sambunaris made a strong impression on me,
and is also featured on the back cover of the book above.  

So when Lesa Griffith at the Honolulu Academy of Arts generously offered to let me see and photograph the home during my brief stay, I jumped at the chance. 


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...so of course, I had to take my own version... Photo ©Darren Bradley

Although relatively modest in size and scale, the home was built in 1953 in a fairly wealthy enclave (this was in the era before McMansions). It's located in a subdivision of Wai'alae called Pu'u Panini, on the east side of Diamond Head. The development was planned by Ossipoff, and he designed several of the homes there - including his own residence and this one. 


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Vladimir Ossipoff in his studio in 1975. Source: Honolulu Magazine. 

The house was designed for prominent Honolulu attorney Marshall Goodsill, his wife Ruth, and their children. Like many of his generation, Goodsill's early history was shaped by World War II. He was a US Naval Intelligence officer in both the Pacific and European theaters. He returned to his law firm as a partner after the war, and remaining in Honolulu as one of the island's most prominent attorneys until his death in 2004. 


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Marshall Goodsill. Source: Honolulu Advertiser

The house was left to the Honolulu Academy of Arts when Ruth Goodsill passed away in 2011. 

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Front/street elevation with the pool. The balcony on the right leads to the kitchen. The one on the left is the dining area. The living area is behind the shoji screens. Photo ©Darren Bradley

The house is built in a Japanese style that is very characteristic of Ossipoff's designs. He was raised in Japan, the son of an Imperial Russian military attaché, and spoke fluent Japanese. He frequently used Japanese woodworkers on the island to build his homes and many of the interior built-in furniture. 

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Interior of the living area, with the built-in shelving and bleached redwood walls and ceilings, that were so characteristic of Ossipoff. Photo ©Darren Bradley

In fact, the house is actually three separate pavilions, clustered around a courtyard garden with a lanai and a deep overhang for a covered walkway. 


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The children's wing is across the courtyard garden. Photo ©Darren Bradley

If you've been in a few Ossipoff houses, you can quickly identify his style, and this house definitely feels like one of his designs. That characteristic fine woodworking detail is everywhere, along with the low-gabled roofline and Japanese modernist style. The walls and ceilings are bleached redwood, that continue outside onto the lanai. There are built-in shelves everywhere, as well, and sliding glass and screen pocket doors that open the house up completely to the outdoors. 

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View into the living room. Photo ©Darren Bradley

The house is built on a relatively small lot, with neighbors, but maintains its openness and connection to the outside by being built around a courtyard garden. A pool and additional wing was built later, also designed by Ossipoff. 

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The focal point of the house is this covered lanai, which is where I'd spend most of my time if I lived here. Photo ©Darren Bradley

I didn't want to be too intrusive, or take too much time, so this is a very quick view after spending just an hour or so, and I didn't photograph the kitchen, dining area, or bedrooms, obviously. A very sincere thank you to Lesa Griffith and the Honolulu Academy of Arts for their kind generosity in sharing this home (and especially to the director, Stephan Jost, for sharing his home)! 

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OK, last one... Photo ©Darren Bradley

For more information on this home, please refer to Dean Sakamoto and Karla Britton's book, Hawaiian Modern:  The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff, by Yale University Press. You can also refer to the listing at the Historic Hawaii Foundation, who do an incredible job at registering and increasing awareness and appreciation for Hawaii's historic buildings. 

21 comments:

Unknown said...

Beautiful mate. Lucky to get a visit to this rare and wonderful home. Thanks for sharing. RT

Boris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boris said...

It would be interesting to see the house from all sides; still the essence was captured, as always. Definitive photos.
On an unrelated subject, I did not realized that Russia maintained diplomatic relations with Japan after 1905. Most likely, credit goes to Teddy Roosevelt.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Rory! Happy holidays to you, brother!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Boris. As I mentioned, I only had a very limited time to photograph the house so I focused on a few key shots that I wanted. There were lots of rooms and angles that I did not take. Also, the house is surrounded on three sides by heavy vegetation and neighboring houses, so views are restricted outside of the courtyard and pool areas.

As for diplomatic relations, you are correct. Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth, which restored peaceful and diplomatic relations between the two empires (Japan and Russia). Of course, it was in American interests to do so, to avoid having either side assert dominance in the Pacific region...

Anonymous said...


The house is built on a relatively small lot

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