Long ago, Ka'ohao,
the old name for Lanikai, was a windswept plain covered with native grasses and
overlooked by treeless mountains. The Hawaiians used the mountain tops
between Alala Point (near the stone monument at the entrance to Lanikai) and
Wailea Point (near Bellows) to scan the sea for fish. Natural fishgod
shrines can be found near the "Hilltop House" and at the Waimanalo
end of Lanikai.
Until 1920, there was no bridge over
Ka'elepulu Stream and no potable water. Watermelons and turkeys were raised in
Lanikai and the land was farmed using brackish water pumped by windmills.
The first permanent houses
were built in 1924. The owners used them as weekend and vacation retreats
because the drive over the old Pali
Road was very slow and windy. Before the tunnels
were built and the road widened, a high-riding Model-T crossing the Pali could
be blown sideways.
Lanikai was developed as a subdivision in the
early 1920's when Charles Frasier, Irwin Beadle and Chalrles Heiser laid out,
paved and named the streets. These men also planned the Mid-Pacific Country
Club and had the foresight to provide rights-of-way for non-beachside residents.
Beach-front property originally sold for 20 cents a square foot and was not
very popular because there were no windbreaks to protect the structures from
the strong sea breezes.
In the late 1940's and early 1950's. the
Lanikai Association acquired land for a community park at the corner of
'A'a'apapa and Kai'olena Drives. For many years, beginning in 1951, very
popular and well attended luaus were held to raise money for the mortgage
payments on this property.
In August of 1963 the first melodrama
performance was held by the Mortgage Players. This group was established as a
separate entity to raise funds for helping to pay off the mortgage, which was completely paid off in the mid-1970's. The Mortgage
Players continue to this day making a large annual donation to the Association
for park improvements.
In 1971-72 the Lanikai Association
spearheaded a movement to install the state's first bikeway. This involved a
considerable willingness to change on the part of the entire community. The
result was a complete revision of the main roads into a two directional bikeway
and one-way streets comprising the 'A'alapapa - Mokulua loop.
The next bikeway project promoted by the
community was the construction of a connecting route from Lanikai to Kailua. The final segment,
a bikeway bridge over Ka'elepulu Stream, was completed in 1998.
In 1987 the old "long house" at the Park was
demolished to make room for a new building that houses maintenance equipment
owned by the Association, the Mortgage Player's props and storage space for
various other active groups in the community such as the Lanikai Canoe Club and
the volleyball players. This Structure was named the "Ralston Frodahl
two long-time community members for their years of dedication and service. The
building was the result of many generous gifts of time, labor and money from
residents and friends of the community.
The Lanikai Canoe
Club was an integral part of the Lanikai Association between 1953 and 1960.
George Perry and Herb Dowsett joined
forces to found the Club. George did the organizational and coaching work, and
Herb provided the equipment and training
site. The Lanikai Association at the time had been hosting a number of sports
teams for the children of the Lanikai
Community. Unique to canoe racing at the time was the participation of the
children in all aspects of running the Club.