Onion House

Kailua Kona, Hawaii

This estate, owned by a member of the McCormick Spice Co. family, wasn't nicknamed after the company's dehydrated onions. Instead, the Onion House moniker came courtesy of an angry neighbor overheard complaining that "The damned thing looks like an onion!" In 1959, Elizabeth von Beck, niece of the founder of McCormick, commissioned Kendrick Bangs Kellogg to create a structure that would be as eccentric as she was. Von Beck approved the design, but contractors deemed it unbuildable. So Kellogg decided to build it himself with the help of friends such as Bill Slatton, who was a welder on Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West house. Following the design principles of organic architecture, Kellogg created lava rock walls and let in light with stained glass and translucent fiberglass roofs. The house—with its view of the Kona coastline's spectacular sunsets—features two arching "onion" domes and is surrounded by gardens, pools, and ponds. Von Beck's niece, Beth McCormick (who is also the current owner), restored the house in 1984 after it fell into disrepair and faced foreclosure. The Onion House is currently available for vacation rental.
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