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Shangri La 

Photographer: Tim Street-Porter 

Client: Doris Duke

Location: Honolulu, HI

Shoot Date: 
February 28, 2011 
The final stop on Doris Duke and James Cromwell’s honeymoon was Hawai‘i. Originally planning to stay for two to three weeks, the couple fell in love with the seclusion and privacy the islands offered, extending their stay by three and a half months. Soon thereafter, the two decided to build a home in Honolulu rather than Palm Beach, Florida, where James’s mother lived. Fortunately, the Taj Mahal-inspired marble bedroom and bathroom suite plans that Doris had commissioned while in India were transferrable to this new estate. Doris named the new home “Shangri La” and described it as “a Spanish-Moorish-Persian-Indian complex.”
Designed by architect Marion Sims Wyeth and built between 1936 and 1938, Shangri La is believed to be named for the mythical hidden paradise in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon. At the time, it was the most expensive home constructed in Hawai‘i, costing about $1.4 million to build. 
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