“’Have you seen the Cleghorn Gardens?’ is a frequent question to the malihini, and only another way of asking if one has seen the gardens of the late Princess Victoria Kaʻiulani, lovely hybrid flower of Scottish and Polynesian parentage, daughter of a princess of Hawaiʻi, Miriam Likelike (sister of Liliʻuokalani and Kalākaua) and the Honorable Arthur Scott Cleghorn.”
“We are too late by twenty years to be welcomed by Likelike, and eight years behind time to hear the merriment of Kaiulani in her father’s house Kaʻiulani, who would now be of the same age as Jack London.”
“The famous house, ʻĀinahau, is not visible from the Avenue. Here the bereft consort of Likelike lives in solitary state with his servants, amid the relics of unforgotten days. He receives few visitors, and we felt as if breaking his privacy were an intrusion, even though by invitation.”
“But the commandingly tall, courtly old Scot, wide brown eyes smiling benevolently under white hair and beetling brows, paced halfway down his palm-pillared driveway in greeting, and led our little party about the green-shady ways of the wonderland of flowers and vines, lily ponds and arbors, ‘Where Kaʻiulani sat,’ or sewed, or read, or entertained all in a forest of high interlacing trees of many varieties, both native and foreign.”
“I was most fascinated by a splendid banyan a tree which from childhood I had wanted to see. This pleased the owner, whose especial pride it is ‘Kaʻiulani’s banyan’ … Into nurseries and vegetable gardens we followed him, and real grass huts that have stood untouched for years.”
“And the house. The portion once occupied by the vanished Princess is never opened to strangers, nor used in any way. Only her father wanders there, investing the pretty suite of rooms with recollection of her tuneful young presence.” (Charmaine London, June 29, 1907)
Princess Kaʻiulani inherited 10-acres of land in Waikīkī from her godmother, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani. Originally called Auaukai, her mother named it ʻĀinahau; Princess Kaʻiulani spent most of her life there.
The stream that flowed through ʻĀinahau and emptied into the ocean between the Moana and Royal Hawaiian Hotels (where the present Outrigger Hotel is located,) was called ʻApuakehau (the middle of three rivers that used to run through Waikīkī.)
The family built a two-story home on the estate. At first the home was used only as a country estate, but Princess Kaʻiulani’s family loved it so much, it soon became their full time residence.
Miriam Likelike passed away at ʻĀinahau 12-years before Kaʻiulani herself passed in 1899; Cleghorn lived until 1910 and also passed away there.
“ʻĀinahau, the beautiful residence and park at Waikiki, formerly the home of Governor Cleghorn, has become the property of the public, the will of the late governor, filed for probate yesterday, bequeathing the property to the public use as a park, to be known as Kaʻiulani park, after his daughter the late Princess Kaʻiulani.” (San Francisco Call, November 20, 1910)
“Mr. Cleghorn … felt that he held ʻĀinahau in a sort of trust, to preserve it for the memory of Kaʻiulani, and indirectly also of Likelike.” (Honolulu Star Bulletin, April 16, 1913)
“A bill to accept the fine gift passed the senate in 1913 but was killed in the house, and it was admitted at the time that some of the heirs under the will had joined in fighting against the acceptance bill.” (Honolulu Star-Bulleting, September 23, 1913)
“The deal by which the property was leased was completed yesterday. The name of the lessee is withheld at this time, but it was learned that local persons are interested in the project.”
“On the first of July the buildings already on the estate will be opened as a hotel. The buildings include one large structure, five cottages and one grass house. … The lease is made for a short period of time, with the privilege of extension. It includes the entire area of beautiful ʻĀinahau.” (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 21, 1913)
Mrs EH Lewis rented the property from the Cleghorn estate and operated the property as ʻĀinahau Hotel from 1913 to 1917.
“The ʻĀinahau, with its waving, coconut trees, stately palms and winding roads and paths, has always been known as one of the most beautiful and romantic spots in Honolulu.” (Honolulu Star-Bulleting, September 23, 1913)
“The ʻĀinahau Hotel has its entrance opposite the Moana and is not on the beach, but in the beautiful tropical jungle which was the residence of the late AS Cleghorn, father of the deceased Princess Kaʻiulani. This is also on the cottage plan, and accommodates 75 guests. American plan $1.50 to $2.50 per day; $40 to $75 per month.” (The Aloha Guide, 1915)
“ʻĀinahau is entered by a roadway opposite the Moana Hotel at Waikiki and was the residence of the late AS Cleghorn, father of the former Princess Kaʻiulani.”
“Mr. Cleghorn, upon his death in 1911, devised ʻĀinahau to Honolulu as a public park specifying certain conditions, among them that it should be closed after 6 pm.”
“Using this as a pretext, the legislature of 1913 rejected the gift, the city being now the poorer for it, for here tropical trees, plants, vines and shrubbery abound in such profusion and luxuriance as to offer wonderful opportunities for parking.”
“The property is now operated as a hotel, the numerous cottages being used for the purpose. The large banyan tree growing in front of the main building was a favorite retreat of Robert Louis Stevenson while he sojourned here.” (The Aloha Guide, 1915)
Then, newspaper accounts noted, “ʻĀinahau, the beautiful home of the late Governor AS Cleghorn at Waikiki and the spot perhaps best loved by Robert Lewis Stevenson of any place on the islands, will soon be only a memory, for it has been sold to James W Pratt and other interests and will immediately be cut up into building lots.”
“The price of the land, which comprises 11 2/3 acres, was $60,000. It is the plan of Mr. Pratt to subdivide the estate into 40 lots and make it an exclusive and one of the most beautiful residential districts in Honolulu.” (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 19, 1917)
Shortly after, ads started getting posted in the local papers, “For sale – Entire furnishings of ʻĀinahau hotel, 40 bedroom sets, billiard and pool tables, etc.” (Honolulu Star Bulletin, March 26, 1917)