History & Landmarks
Welcome to the Beautiful City of Redlands. A Big Town with a Small Town Feel…
Redlands – known in 1900 as “The City of Millionaires” and later as “The City of Beautiful Homes” welcomes you! Founded in 1881 and incorporated in 1888, Redlands is a quintessential “big town” with a “small town” feel. For much of its history Redlands was the “Washington Navel Orange Growing Capital of the World” with the citrus industry as the main focus of its economy.
Through the years the economy may have changed, but that special feeling of community in a small town hasn’t. This is clear as you take a look around Redlands. Tree-lined State Street is still comprised primarily of beautiful historic buildings and locally-owned shops and boutiques. Some of its most famous buildings, like A.K. Smiley Public Library, a Moorish-style library built in 1898, and the Redlands Bowl, built in 1930 and home of the oldest continuously free outdoor concert series in California, are merely steps from historic downtown.
Just to the west, one can stroll through the Smiley Park neighborhood, filled with turn-of-the-century bungalows as well as landmark homes. With a short drive, one can cruise by some famous homes, like “America’s Favorite Victorian” the Morey House, on Terracina Boulevard, see the stately homes of Olive Avenue, and Highland Avenue, the “Butler Belt” so known because at one time that was the most dense population of homes employing butlers in the City! You can visit Kimberly Crest House and Gardens, a home museum featured on the PBS series “America’s Castles” and don’t miss a walk through Prospect Park, just next door.
Redlands’ parks are perfect for picnicking, and are designed with this in mind. While you’re at it, the beautiful campus of University of Redlands, founded 1907, is worth a seeing.
–Nathan D. Gonzales
Archivist and Head of Special Collections
A.K. Smiley Public Library
The Redlands Bowl in Smiley Park can actually trace its heritage
back to the King of Spain in 1769. Ownership of the land
passed through Mexico to the U.S. Territory of California in 1848
and was then awarded to Jose Del Carmen Lugo and eventually to
Albert Smiley, one of Redlands “Patron Saints”. The city of
Redlands came into ownership in 1898.
The Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival was begun in 1924 by Grace Stewart Mullen, founder of the Redands Community Music Association. She believed the music should be enjoyed by all and dreamed of Redlands having a performing arts venue comparable to the Hollywood Bowl, with the only exception: there would be no admission charge. It has remained an admission free venue hosting world class concerts for almost 100 years.
At 8:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday, June – August
Built in 1897, the “castle” is a picturesque French chateau-style historical house museum. In 1963 Kimberly Crest was donated to the people of the City of Redlands by Mary Kimberly-Shirk, daughter of J. Alfred Kimberly (co-founder of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation).
Hours of Operation: Thursday, Friday, and Sunday 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Tours start at 1 p.m. with the last one at 3:30 p.m. and last approximately 45 minutes.
This beautiful Victorian home has been dubbed “America’s Favorite Victorian House” and has appeared in countless commercials, television shows, and movies. David Morey arrived in Redlands in 1882 to retire from carpentry and shipbuilding. His wife Sarah fronted the money for the house, and his building expertise is apparent throughout the Queen Anne-style Victorian. Actress Carole Lombard, a relative of Mrs. Helen Kimberly, is reported to have spent time at the Morey house, and one of the rooms is called “The Lombard Room.”
The Asistencia Mission de San Gabriel (or Estancia) is operated by the Redlands Conservancy and is well worth a visit. It was built between 1830 and 1834 by the Franciscan Fathers of Mission San Gabriel, whose enormous land holdings stretched from Pasadena to Redlands. The County of San Bernardino and several other groups have been instrumental in restoring the Asistencia. The restored structures house a wedding chapel, cactus garden, bell tower, wishing well, and a museum with exhibits that depict Native American and early pioneer life.
For visitors information, contact:
Unique in its architecture, A. K. Smiley Public Library is an official point of historical interest designated by the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Still housed in its original building, the facility is noted for its research archives. Constructed in 1898, the library is the culmination of the philanthropy of hotelier Albert K. Smiley, who raised $60,000, much of it borrowed, to purchase the land and fund construction. One of the great philanthropic gifts to the City of Redlands, the Smiley Library is among California’s oldest and most important public libraries.
Hours of Operation: Mon-Tues 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wed-Thurs 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fri-Sat 9 a.m, to 5 p.m. Sun 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.