Post War YearsParker Ranch, however, had fallen upon hard times in the middle years of the 20th Century. By 1920 the ranch had grown tremendously, at one point encompassing more than half-million-acres with a purebred herd of 30,000 Herefords. Alfred Wellington Carter managed the ranch but technologically the ranch was suffering and profitability declined.
This was to change once owner Richard Smart (a Parker descendant) returned to Hawaii in 1949 following a successful Broadway career. As outlined in his biography on the Parker Ranch website:
"Smart began improvements to Parker Ranch. He restructured and expanded much of the cattle breeding and feeding procedures. He improved the ranch headquarters and built the Parker Ranch Visitor Center with its museum, restaurant and saddle shop.
He leased land to Laurance Rockefeller, who was the catalyst to resort development along the Kona-Kohala Coast. He instituted programs to benefit ranch employees in education, health care and culture. And he left his sophisticated, artistic mark on Parker Ranch, adorning his home, called Puuopelu, with the exquisite art and furniture pieces he had collected during his worldly travels."
Parker Ranch 2020 PlanDuring Smart's life the Waimea area continued to grow. In order to insure the future of the ranch and the Waimea Community, Smart devised a long-range plan called the Parker Ranch 2020 Plan. Again as outlined on the Parker Ranch website:
"The Plan's intent was to set aside sufficient lands to allow for uncongested growth and development. Controlling the growth would allow the community to maintain its rural "village" character yet provide future business, employment, and housing for residents. To fund ranching operations, Smart authorized the sale of low-yield pasture lands that are now the site of world-class luxury resorts along the Kohala Coast .Smart died in 1992 and with his death the Parker Ranch passed to the control of the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust whose beneficiaries include Parker School Trust Corporation, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, The Richard Smart Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation and North Hawaii Community Hospital.
The thriving community of Waikoloa Village is on former Parker Ranch land. In 1992, Hawaii County approved the rezoning of more than 580 acres of land for commercial, industrial and residential activities in conjunction with the 2020 Plan. Today, Parker Ranch Foundation Trust trustees are charged with continued implementation of Smart's vision, the Parker Ranch 2020 Plan."
Waimea TodayAs time has passed, lands no longer needed for raising cattle have been sold and housing development has increased in the Waimea area.
Mollie Sperry comments on the current state of Waimea in her Brief History of Waimea:
"Waimea's burgeoning population is diverse and strong. Farmers and ranchers are joined by educators from seven schools, employees of a string of seven world class hotels and nine golf courses, astronomers and technicians from two major telescope facilities, clergy from 14 or more religious groups and health professionals for the North Hawaii Community hospital, Lucy Henriques Medical Center and various dental and doctors' offices.
The town hosts Realtors, contractors, architects, bankers and entrepreneurs. Kahilu Theater anchors a cultural center of artisans and craftsmen. The expansive Hawaiian Homes Land attracts a substantial number of native Hawaiians.
Today Waimea's three shopping centers, two traffic lights, two fast food restaurants and twenty-plus other dining establishments are almost too commercial for some, but the era of rapid growth is here. Parker Ranch and it's late owner Richard Smart, continue to shape the face and the future of Waimea through bequests to health, education and cultural facilities, it's own large business holdings and a community trust."
Recommended ReadingThe Parker Ranch of Hawaii: A Saga of a Ranch and a Dynasty by Joseph Brennan
"A definitive history of a man and the ranch he founded that has grown to mythic proportions. The Parker Ranch is not only a history of an exceptional man and his family, but it is an important chapter in Hawaiian history. The book reads like a Greek odyssey and readers quickly become fascinated with the lives of the characters that were John Parkers descendants." - Amazon.com
Loyal to the Land: The Legendary Parker Ranch, 750-1950 by Billy Bergin
"Loyal to the Land is a sweeping history of one of the United States' largest working ranches, the Big Island of Hawai'i's Parker Ranch. In this wide-ranging and insightful book, illustrated with more than 250 historical photos, Dr. Bergin first discusses the important Hispanic vaquero roots of ranching in Hawai'i. He then relates the histories of the five foundation families, providing rich and detailed information on key members who contributed to the Ranch's success." - Amazon.com