Ewa Plantation is one of the most intact sugar plantation towns in Hawaii, thanks in large part to the efforts of the City and County of Honolulu, which acquired the area in 1995 and oversaw its rehabilitation. Although the mill, with its prominent red brick stack, no longer stands, many of the other buildings do. The plantation was started in 1890, and remained in operation until 1970 when it was acquired by Oahu Sugar Company. During the course of operations, Ewa Plantation constructed more than twelve hundred residences in eight distinct camps, which the plantation referred to as villages. Today only two villages—Renton and Tenney—remain, containing approximately two hundred houses. These reflect the hierarchical character of the plantation, with people in higher positions provided with larger houses clustered near the heart of the town.
Surrounded by more recent housing developments, Ewa remains an enclave unto itself, characterized by mature trees and its historic houses and buildings. Banyan-shaded Renton Road, the organizational spine of the village, separates the primarily residential areas on its mauka side from the management and industrial activities on the makai side. The large, open green space opposite the corrugated-iron industrial buildings once stirred with activity, as the cane haul trucks lined up on one side of the concrete wall, now adorned by a recent mural, to have their loads removed onto a conveyer belt which loomed over Renton Road and delivered the harvest to the mill.
Renton Village, situated across from the plantation office and managers houses, was often referred to as “Haole (Caucasian) Camp,” as most of its residents were white middle-management and skilled workers. The eight houses in Renton which front on the “mall,” the large, open green space opposite the plantation office, date from 1918, and were originally occupied by supervisors. Tenney Village, situated beyond the mill, was formerly referred to as “Japanese Camp.” It was developed between 1923 and 1938, with the majority of the houses dating from 1936 to 1938. The later houses are distinguished by their double-pitched hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves and enclosed lanai.