Redlands’ Victorian homes make this community unique in most of Southern California. The early migration to Redlands as a wintering place for well to do Midwestern and Easterners, created a rich diversity in architecture. Combined with California fashion of the times Redlands could boast home styles from high Victorian, California Craftsman, Classic Revival, and Mission Revival.
One of the characteristics loved at the turn of the nineteenth century was the ability to grow the exotic botany of the world. Vast orange groves of international repute didn’t hurt the high profile and fashion of the times. Ironically it may have been the orange industry that saved so many wonderful examples of Victorian architecture in Redlands.
In 1913, following twenty years of boom-building and regional influence, a hard freeze put Redlands in an economic slump. World War I further slowed the enthusiasm of the building boom. By the Twenties the movie industry had attracted many to Hollywood and further east to Palm Springs. Redlands became a sleepy mid-western-like town with little growth.
But the slow growth for all those years kept the normal urban commercial creep into old previously fashionable neighborhoods at bay. Unlike many larger cities where the oldest Victorian homes were torn down for “progress” and streets were widened for the ever increasing traffic to downtown, Redlands kept many homes in their original neighborhood form. Had the frost not occurred, Redlands commercial and agricultural economy of the 1900’s may well have created a much larger city.
This sleepy town now provides perhaps the only intact and living “turn-of the century” neighborhoods in Southern California. As a result its former tourist reputation is returning, especially for the day trip for regional Southern Californians.
Redlands now boasts fine restaurants and unique shopping in its historic downtown, walking tours, the Lincoln Shrine, A.K. Smiley Library and the San Bernardino County Museum, all worth visiting.
But the most impressive characteristic is the living history in the architecture captured in the parks, homes and public buildings in a near time capsule of 1900, if you ignore the cars! If you plan to visit, be sure to see these links first: