Hawaii Home + Remodeling takes you inside the recently renovated home of former U.S. Congressman and Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his wife, Nancie Caraway in the August 2017 issue. Nearly every thoughtfully-displayed photo and decorative item in their Manoa home has a meaningful story, and we loved hearing those stories from them. We asked the former governor and his wife to share a few of their favorite items with Hawaii Home + Remodeling readers.  

The National Tropical Botanical Garden gifted the couple this Susan Middleton photograph of a silversword from Haleakala, Maui. The photograph is framed by Pacific Gallery & Frames. “We knew we wanted that to be the centerpiece,” Abercrombie adds.

Abercrombie’s favorite room is his media room, and his favorite item in that room is this framed photo of himself and former Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink. It’s placed directly across from his favorite chair, where he gazes up every now and then from whichever book he’s reading. “When I’m there thinking, reading, figuring things out, I’m looking at my picture of me and Patsy Mink,” he says.

“There’s nobody like her. There never was and there never will be again,” Abercrombie says, tears in his eyes, as he begins to tell the story behind the photo.

The photo was taken at a rally at Iwilei’s Dole Cannery. “Very few people in political life are able to effect such fundamental change as to change the course of history, and she was one of them with Title IX,” Abercrombie says, adding, “She broke every barrier there was to break.”

This Buddha was in Abercrombie’s one-bedroom, 500-square-foot apartment in Washington, D.C., while he represented Hawaii in Congress. “It brought me great peace,” he says.

He placed it near his apartment’s entry, so the first thing he saw when he came home, and the last thing he saw before leaving for work at the Capitol, was this Buddha. He picked it up in Thailand while on his first Congressional tour. It was in a shop, prepared to be discarded with the trash. “The hand was broken; it was cracked,” Abercrombie explains. But he liked its expression and color, and that it is crafted of wood.

Abercrombie and Caraway treat many of their house guests to the story behind this photo of Abercrombie with Barack Obama, circa December 2006. It was taken at Waikiki’s Hilton Hawaiian Village.

“We put together a reception for him, for the Democratic Party of Hawaii. I remember him saying to me, ‘Maybe no one will come.’ Of course, hundreds of people showed up. I introduced him as Hawaii’s third senator,” Abercrombie recalls.

A couple of Caraway’s favorite items are ceramic lanterns she picked up in Istanbul. She was there on a trip working on women’s rights. She wrapped them in paper and carried them back in her arms to the United States. This one now hangs above the kitchen sink.

Caraway says her mother loved fish and the color blue, so she picked up this decorative storage box for her while traveling in India with Abercrombie in the 1990s. “She really treasured it,” Caraway recalls. 

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