Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Tiki mystery solved!

In 2008, I posted the above photo, asking if anyone could identify this tiki-themed Orange County apartment complex.  All I knew was that the photo was taken by folks from the Orange County Planning Dept in November 1961.

Finally, four years after my post, we have an answer. Mike Skinner of the excellent Tiki Architecture blog wrote that it was probably the Hana Kiki Garden Apartments at 1147 W. Memory Lane, in Santa Ana (just east of Bristol Ave.). 

I've been to the Hana Kiki before, and I took photos (which I'll share below). The complex is even featured in my Orange County Tiki presentation. But I never made a connection between the complex and our mystery photo. So I went back today, on my lunch break to prove it to myself and to take an "after" photo.
 Sure enough. It's the right place. The tikis are gone from the landscaping and everything looks like a jungle now. It's actually quite an attractive place, but you can see how the buildings are obscured by the foliage.
The only tiki still to be found in the complex is the pole holding up the A-frame pool house. And even that is showing a lot of damage from either termites or wood rot. A detail is supplied below. (Also note the thatch on the rear wall.)
Mike writes that the complex was "constructed in 1960 and began renting apartments (adults only) in November 1960." In the newspapers of the day, ads for the Hana Kiki read, "New, deluxe,... bungalow apartments near Fashion Square in a big avocado grove with lush landscaping, private patios, Gold Medallion kitchens, real fireplaces, 1 1/2 bath, color plumbing fixtures, carpet, drapes, large recreation lanai and pool. 1 and 2 bedrooms, unfurnished."

Man, that sounds great! And a later ad pointed out that this "ultra modern" complex had its own private street, which "assures quiet seclusion." I'd move there myself, except that avocado grove is gone -- and in its place is,... well,... Santa Ana.
 Additional Mid-Century, Polynesian-Pop remnants from 1960 include the Asian/Modern motif iron fencing, the textile cement block wall around the "lanai," the lava rock chimneys on each unit, and of course the 51-year-old subtropical plants.
Anyway, my thanks to Mike for finally solving this mystery. We "urban archaeologist" types make a lot more progress when we can work together on this stuff.

P.S.- Also be sure to see my post on the Islander Apartments -- another tiki paradise that's just about a block away from the Hana Kiki.


Connie Moreno said...


Doug said...

The place grew up....What a great field survey and site visit photos.

Anonymous said...

Always exciting to have a mystery solved; thanks for sharing the great news! - Daralee

CoxPilot said...

When we were married in "66, we wanted to live there but could not afford it. I'm glad to see they are still there.

Gustavo Arellano said...

Come, now! SanTana isn't bad at ALL. Hell, I feel more in danger driving my 1974 Cadillac Eldorado in Irvine than I do walking through SanTana's downtown at night...and let's not even get started on the totality that is Huntington Beach.

Chris Jepsen said...

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely things I like about Santa Ana. I've enjoyed working there for almost a decade and have friends who live there. Things I like about the town include its architecture, its big beautiful trees, the zoo, and the great staff and volunteers at the Library.

But personally, I prefer living in my hometown of Huntington Beach.

One of the nice things about Orange County is having a diverse array of communities to choose from. From Trabuco to Anaheim, and from San Juan Capistrano to La Habra, there's something for pretty much everyone here.

Chelly Bryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chelly Bryan said...

I am glad I am not the only one who loves this stuff. Really awesome!

Anonymous said...