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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 31, 2002

Marshland like gold mine over time

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Little did Anna Wundenburg Wright know in the late-1800s that a piece of mostly marshland a few miles 'ewa and inland of Waikiki would become such a wise investment for her descendants.

Wright, who grew up in Hanalei Valley on Kaua'i, was concerned about her husband's investments, including a Koloa sugar plantation, so she persuaded him to buy her a 20-something-acre piece of land in Honolulu. She called it Independence Park, according to her great-grandnephew Charles Wichman. "She always referred to it as her independence," Wichman said.

Wright moved onto the property to live with her husband, and when she died in 1923, outliving her husband, the land passed to her sisters and then to Wichman's mother and aunt in 1941.The property was leased in 1945 to four developers who filled the makai duck ponds and subleased the property to various commercial users for 45 years.

Wichman's mother's half of the property (the 'ewa side bordered by what is today Sheridan, Makaloa, Rycroft and Ke'eaumoku streets) passed to Wichman and his two brothers upon his mother's death in 1987.

In 1991 at the end of the lease, control of the property returned to the Wichmans, who started an 11-year mission to either redevelop or sell the property now known as the Ke'eaumoku "superblock."