Hawaiian sugar magnate’s family called Berkeley home for seven decades

Daniella Thompson

18 April 2006

The Fay� family at 3122 Claremont Ave., which they owned from 1914 until 1931 (photo courtesy of Marc Fay�)

In 1873, U.C. Berkeley’s first commencement exercises were held. It was on that occasion that California’s governor Newton Booth, who was considered one of the great public speakers of his day, called Berkeley the “Athens of the West.” The appellation stuck—not only in word but in practice. And so it came to pass that in 1914, a wealthy Norwegian-Hawaiian family brought its large brood to Berkeley to be properly educated.

The pater familias was sugar pioneer Hans Peter Fay� II (1859–1928). Born in Norway, young Hans arrived on the island of Kauai in 1880. He leased land, cleared it of lava boulders, dug an artesian well for irrigation, and planted sugar cane. In 1898, he merged the H.P. Fay� Company with another plantation and a sugar mill, forming the Kekaha Sugar Company, which he managed for thirty years, until his death.

The Fay� estate at 3122 Claremont Avenue (photo: BAHA archives)

In 1893, Hans Peter married Margaret Bonnar Lindsay (1873–1961). Between 1895 and 1912, they brought to the world three girls and five boys. The youngest was born in Norway, where the Fay�s had returned to live. When World War I broke out, the family returned to the USA. In 1914, seven of the children were of school age, with the eldest ready to enter college. The Fay�s purchased a Berkeley residence at 3122 Claremont Avenue, between Eton Ave. and Woolsey Street. It was a stately Queen Anne surrounded by extensive grounds (today there are 21 houses standing on the same land), previously owned by John Howard Smith, a San Francisco attorney. When Smith first occupied the house in 1878, the address was still given as the “west side of old Telegraph Road near the foothills.”

The Claremont Gardens development replaced the Fay� estate. (scan courtesy of Jerry Sulliger)

The Fay� children

  1. Isabel Bonnar – b. 21 Jan. 1895, Mana, Kauai – d. 7 Feb. 1982, Berkeley
  2. Hans Peter III – b. 11 Jun. 1896, Mana, Kauai – d. 27 Oct. 1984 Waimea, Kauai
  3. Anton Lindsay* – b. 13 Jan. 1898, Mana, Kauai – d. 2 May 1979, Kekaha, Kauai
  4. Ida Constance – b. 16 Mar. 1899, Kekaha, Kauai – d. 9 April 1980, Lihue, Kauai. Married [1] artist Paul Chandler Robertson 4 Jun. 1929; [2] Harry L. Dawson 28 May 1966
  5. Margaret “Mig” Lindsay – b. 28 April 1900, Kekaha, Kauai – d. 21 Jan. 1988, Lihue, Kauai
  6. Eyvind Marcus – b. 6 Jun. 1904, Kekaha, Kauai – d. 18 Mar. 1985, Woodland, Yolo
  7. Alan Eric – b. 25 Jun. 1905, Kekaha, Kauai – d. 5 Nov. 1968 Waimea, Kauai
  8. Alexander Lindsay – b. 24 Jul. 1912, Oslo, Norway – d. 7 Feb. 1978 Lihue, Kauai
*Anton Lindsay legally changed his name to Lindsay Anton.

During the Fay�s’ 15-year residence at 3122 Claremont Ave., there was always at least one student in the house. In 1919, after completing his studies at Choate School and Yale, the second child and eldest son, Hans P. Fay� III (1896–1984), began working in the San Francisco office of his father’s agent, American Factors, Inc. The following year, he married Charlotte Eaton (1898–2000), and in 1924 the couple bought a house at 40 Eucalyptus Road, where they remained only two years. As their family grew, a larger home was needed, and in 1926 they purchased 15 Hillcrest Court, a short walk away from the parents’ estate. Designed by Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. in 1910, this house was open during BAHA’s Spring House Tour on Sunday, 7 May 2006.

15 Hillcrest Court, designed by Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. in 1910 (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

In 1927, Hans Peter II transferred ownership of his Claremont estate to the H.P. Fay�, Ltd. Company, no doubt with the intention of developing the land. His death and the crash of 1929 delayed the plans only slightly. One new house was constructed on the land in 1930, but in May 1931, H.P. Fay�, Ltd. sold the entire Claremont property to Oakland contractor John F. Whalen and his wife Lillian, carrying back a mortgage. The land, known as Tract No. 502 or Claremont Gardens, was subdivided around a cul-de-sac street called Brookside Drive, and 20 additional homes were built, the majority of them in 1932 and ’33. At least seven of the houses were designed by Walter W. Dixon of “Modest Mansions” fame.

Margaret Fay� in her 15 Hillcrest Court library, 1935 (photo courtesy of Marc Fay�)

In 1934, Hans Peter III was transferred to Honolulu, where he would eventually rise to the presidency of Amfac. His four brothers carried on their father’s various enterprises. Anton Lindsay managed the Kekaha Sugar Company, Alan Eric Sr. ran the Waimea Sugar Plantation, and Eyvind Marcus took control of the El Dorado Ranch in Yolo County, where his two sons and grandson still grow a large variety of fruits and nuts. Hans Peter II’s widow, Margaret Fay�, chose to stay on in Berkeley, as did her sister-in-law Ebba and daughter Isabel.

Ebba Fay�’s house at 3038 Hillegass Ave. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

Ebba Fay� (1873–1966) settled into a Craftsman cottage at 3038 Hillegass Ave., sharing it with Margaret. However, once Hans Peter III had moved to Honolulu, Mrs. Fay� took over his Hillcrest Court house. It wasn’t quite as grand as what she had been accustomed to, for the very same year she undertook major alterations at the cost of $4,869. The results were apparently satisfactory, since this elegant house remained in the family for over five decades, serving as its world headquarters. Here the Fay� children and their children would flock at Christmas time. This was also the scene of Mrs. Fay�’s formal dinner parties, during which she reputedly locked the kitchen to keep it out of her guests’ view, using a buzzer under the dining table to summon the staff.

Meanwhile, the eldest daughter, Isabel Bonnar Fay� (1895–1982), lived in an apartment at 2369 Le Conte Ave., then a tony Holy Hill building across the street from Phoebe Apperson Hearst’s former residence. These days, looking somewhat dowdy, the building is owned by the Pacific School of Religion and houses its students.

Isabel Fay� lived in this apartment building at 2369 Le Conte Ave. in the 1930s and ’40s. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

In the late 1940s, Isabel moved to 1524 Spruce Street, directly across from the Second Church of Christ, Scientist. Here she remained until her mother’s death in 1961. Then it was her turn to occupy 15 Hillcrest Court, where she continued living for the rest of her life.

Amfac eventually acquired Kekaha Sugar Co., and Lindsay “Tony” Fay�, Jr. managed the company twice before his retirement in 1992. The Waimea Sugar Mill Company was renamed Kikiaola Land Company, Ltd., still owned by the Fay� family. They are no longer in sugar, but their Waimea Plantation Cottages resort in West Kauai, with 60 restored historic houses, offers vacationers the opportunity to savor the atmosphere of an authentic Hawaiian plantation.

Jerry Sulliger participated in the research for this article.

This article was originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet on 21 April 2006.

The Fay� family’s online history includes a detailed account of the family company by Marc Fay�, grandson of Hans Peter II.


Copyright © 2006–2022 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.