About the Historic Spalding House

The Contemporary Museum of Honolulu’s main locations was in the historic Spalding House in the suburb of Makiki Heights. Constructed in 1925, this historic building featured a residence, gardens, and pavilion, and in the 1980s, it was remodeled as a museum. The building originally held the Contemporary Museum of Honolulu, but in 2011, TCMHI was absorbed by the Honolulu Museum of Art, which now controls the property.

History and Construction of the Spalding House
The Spalding House, which is sometimes referred to as the Cooke-Spalding House, was built in 1925 by Anna Rice Cooke. Architect Hart Wood originally designed and constructed the house, and then it was later enlarged by Bertram Goodhue and Associates. The final residential renovation to the house occurred in 1950, when Alice Spalding (Cooke’s daughter) hired Vladimir Ossipoff to redo the ground floor. The gardens were also landscaped during this time period. Between 1928 and 1941, Reverend K. H. Inagaki designed the gardens as a traditional Japanese stroll garden; however, after the reverend traveled to Japan to visit family in 1941, he was never heard from again.

Late 1900s and Conversion into a Museum
After Alice Spalding passed in 1968, she bequeathed the property unto the Honolulu Museum of Art, which operated it as an annex that displayed Japanese prints. However, in the late 1970s, the house was sold to a subsidiary of the Honolulu Advertiser. From 1979 to 1980, Honolulu landscape architect James C. Hubbard renewed the gardens. Then, after nearly a decade, the Thurston Twigg-Smith family converted it into a museum for contemporary art. During this time period, installations such as L’enfant et les sortileges in the Milton Cades Pavillion were installed in the museum. Additionally, in the early 1990s, landscape architect Leland Miyano transformed the gardens into their current state, and numerous sculptures currently decorate the garden.

Present Day
The Spalding House served as the main location for the Contemporary Museum of Honolulu until 2011. During that year, TCMHI was absorbed by the Honolulu Museum of Art, and it is now known as the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House. The Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House has maintained much of the original museum’s artwork and structure, and it continues to primarily feature contemporary art inside this historical structure. The Honolulu Museum also maintains many of TCMHI’s original features, such as the library, café, and museum shop.