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April 15, 2020 - Wednesday - Today we went for a walking tour of Redlands that was provided by the Redlands Conservancy.  They have held, and later published, numerous walking tours in the city, so we will rely on them for some of our activities during the Coronavirus lockdown.

We began at the Redlands Fox Theater that was built in 1927 and opened officially on December 28, 1928.  The film shown at the time was Laurel & Hardy in “Habeas Corpus.”  Vaudeville shows were also featured here.  The Fox was built in a Spanish Colonial Revival style and it maintains its integrity in the lobbies upstairs and downstairs.

Right next door is the Masonic Lodge, built in 1909.

The Cutler Group Building is an Egyptian Revival-style building that was constructed in 1904 for the Rohrer Cortner Mortuary. Tut-mania and Egyptian death customs, culture, and iconography were very popular in the 1920s and 1930s after Carter’s re-discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb.

The Old Redlands Hospital was built in the Mission style in 1904. It was used as a hospital from 1904-1929 and it included a nursing school in order to have trained nurses to staff the hospital.

The Mission Church was built in 1910 and the back of the building was part of the original Old Hospital. The front is a façade that was added in the 1960s.

The Old University Club Apartments was built in 1910 and it drew “literary” types, but it was never formally associated with the University of Redlands.

Our next stop was Cypress Circle, an eclectic and hidden neighborhood of which most Redlanders are unaware. On March 7, 1915 ten acres of orange groves were scheduled for subdivision into 53 lots. The building restriction was that no building could cost less than $2500.

The Holt House at 405 Olive Ave. was built in 1903. William F. Holt was the very practical millionaire who founded El Centro, Brawley and what was to be the “Redlands of the Imperial Valley” - Holtville. He made his base Redlands for awhile, in part to elicit investment from and otherwise hobnob with his fellow millionaires. The bowling lane in his basement was installed to entertain/schmooze investors. Apparently it worked. The house takes its cue from the Smiley library a few blocks away, with another local interpretation of Spanish-meets-Moorish.

The Olive Avenue Market was one of nearly fifteen neighborhood grocery stores in 1924. It was also home to one of the first Stater Brothers markets. The Olive Avenue Market officially opened its doors on October 27, 2003.

Regal Court is a beautiful bungalow apartment complex on Michigan Street. It was built in 1927 by the prominent Redlands real estate and fire insurance salesman Melvin L. Hooper. The complex was built with rentals in mind and have remained rentals for the past 93 years. Regal Court contains six double units and ten single units. It is a U-shaped court with single-storied units on the long sides and a two-story building to the rear. Each unit is similar on the outside, but subtle differences were built into the interiors. Bright white exterior walls contrast with the red terra cotta tile awnings over the front door and windows. Window space in the court is far beyond the ordinary. Every unit is lit from four sides and when darkness falls every side of every section will be artistically illuminated. Some units were provided concealed beds for the living room and others wall beds in the bedrooms. Every unit has its own fireplace and mantel. When first opened, each unit came fully furnished; included were sofas and matching rugs, tables and chairs, silverware and even a carpet sweeper. Like a snapshot in time, Regal Court has changed little in the last 93 years.

This is the previous home of the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper and it is the future home of the Redlands Historical Museum. Originally designed by Redlands architect Benjamin Rabe, the building was completed and opened in July 1956 as the new location for the city’s daily newspaper.

The Redlands Bowl is an amphitheatre built for music and theatrical performances that are offered to the public with no admission charge. The existing structure was commissioned and built by Florence and Clarence White as a gift to the City of Redlands in 1931. A portion of Proverbs 29:18, “Without vision a people perish,” is inscribed across the frieze above the stage. It is the oldest continuous music festival in the United States at which no admission is charged.

The Mission Gables House is a 7,500 square foot home originally built in 1898. It was a shabby 1890s apartment house on the south side of the Redlands Bowl and had been significantly compromised by a fire in the attic. It is now the home of the Redlands Community Music Association executive offices.

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine was conceived and developed in 1932 by the part-time Redlands resident Robert Watchorn as a memorial to his only son, Emory Watchorn who served with honors in Word War I and died at the age of 25. The building was originally designed in an octagon shape by noted Southern California architect Elmer Grey in 1932. The construction of reinforced concrete was faced with Bedford Indiana limestone plates upon which are inscribed excerpts from Lincoln’s speeches.

Built in 1898, the A. K. Smiley Public Library was donated to Redlands by philanthropist Albert K. Smiley. Architect T. R. Griffith designed the library in a style which has alternately been described as Mission Revival and Moorish Revival. The library still serves as the Redlands public library. In addition, it houses a collection of materials on native tribes in California donated by Andrew Carnegie, as well as a collection of rare materials about Southern California and local history.

It was a wonderful way to spend our morning!

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Last modified: April 15, 2020