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Moanalua Gardens once was 3 times its current size

A 1922 map depicts property that now holds a public park and Mapunapuna

By Bob Sigall
Special to the Star-Advertiser

LAST UPDATED: 2:26 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

Most Rearview Mirror columns are old photos and stories about them. This time, we decided to run an old map. This one dates to 1922 and shows Moanalua Gardens when it was three times its present size.

Moanalua Gardens was once King Kamehameha V's home. Great luaus were held there, and the king encouraged the dancing of hula, which had been banned by missionaries. It was passed to Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who was born at Moanalua. Pauahi left it to Samuel Mills Damon, her husband's business partner, when she died in 1884.

Damon built a magnificent estate on the property and even had Dillingham connect a rail spur so guests could arrive in luxury for his lavish parties. Automobiles were still 15 to 20 years away.

A Chinese Hall was built in China, disassembled, shipped to Hawaii, and reassembled near a pond close to where Servco is today. A two-story Japanese Tea Garden was built.

The estate was divided into a public park, mauka of Moanalua Road, and Damon's private estate below. In 1960, the makai area was developed into Mapunapuna and all the structures that could be moved were relocated to the public park we know today.

The map shows that lower Mapunapuna was wetlands, which explains why it often floods when it rains. Nimitz Highway is now close to where the OR&L train once ran.

Even more interesting, the map shows the location of the original Tripler Hospital, across King Street from Fort Shafter. Tripler was built in 1907 as the Fort Shafter Hospital. It moved to its present site in 1948.

Moanalua means "two encampments." Mapunapuna means "bubbling," referring to an artesian spring that fed into a fishpond.

Samuel Mills Damon died at Moanalua on July 1, 1924, 87 years ago today.

Bob Sigall, author of the "Companies We Keep" books, looks through his collection of old photos and maps to tell stories each Friday of Hawaii people, places and companies. Email him at

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