In the heart of Redlands: The Kimberly Crest House

By ELIZABETH MOLLOY

A drawing of the historical Kimberly Crest House located in Redlands. (ELIZABETH MOLLOY/Ethic News)

In search of places with deep history, local places don’t usually come to mind. Downtown Redlands or the Smiley Library might stand out, however, there are plenty of hidden tokens of history around Redlands. 

The Kimberly Crest House is one of many. The Kimberly Crest House and Gardens were built in 1897 by Cornelia Hill. The house is built on six acres of property and was originally built without the Gardens. The Gardens were added by the second owners, John Alfred & Helen Cheney Kimberly, in 1909. After the death of Kimberly, Mary Kimberly Shirk inherited the house. 

Shirk was an advocate for women’s education and her mother was an avid supporter of The Women’s Club Movement. Shirk’s father was a founder of the Kimberly-Clark Paper Company. Today, the company manufactures paper products as well as medical instruments. 

The inspiration for the house was a French castle that Hill had visited. The specific architecture the house is based on is French Chateau architecture. French Chateau architecture showcases a type of home inspired by French country homes, specifically built in the Loire Valley. These houses have asymmetrical plans with ornate and complicated roofs and facades. 

According to the CityOfRedlands.org, most of the inspiration for the home is French, the Gardens were added in 1909 with the Italian Renaissance architecture in mind. The Gardens include ponds, fountains, rose gardens, plenty of trees, and more. 

 According to KimberlyCrest.org, the house is a Petite Chateau with 22 rooms and 7,000 square feet. The house consists of three stories: the first floor was used for greeting and entertaining guests, the second floor was a personal floor used strictly for the family, and the third floor has another bedroom and a screened porch. The porch was used most likely during the summertime. Part of the third floor was sectioned off as the servants’ quarters that also included a separate bathroom. 

The house has an attic and basement but these cannot be accessed on a public tour. A separate carriage house was built for the horses and carriages that the Kimberly family-owned with an extra bedroom inside for the horse caretaker. 

Today, the house is open to private and public tours. Weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, birthday parties, memorial services and luncheons are also held at the house.

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