Getting to Know the “Jewel of the Inland Empire”

Here at Redlands, the university campus is vibrant, close-knit, and chock-full of picturesque greenery, so it’s understandable if you never want to leave. However, venturing off campus to the surrounding town of Redlands is exciting, and holds the promise of adventure and discovery. It may feel sleepy at times compared to larger college towns, but the city is brimming with several registered California and National Historical landmarks and cultural points of interest. Redlands might not have a big-city feel, but its quaint charm means it truly lives up to its title as the “Jewel of the Inland Empire.”

 

Not only is Downtown Redlands home to the iconic Umbrella Alley, which has graced the feed of so many local Instagrams, but also to the Redlands Galleria, a charming two-story antique mall with a dazzling chandelier adorning the middle of the building. The store welcomes you with a whimsical wheelbarrow full of flowers, and on the inside, thousands of vintage knick knacks can be found throughout the store, including clothes, books, shoes, home decor, and collectibles ranging from valuable to one of-a-kind. Antiques possess the unique appeal of nostalgia. Who knows what you could find if you wander in on a lazy Saturday? Your grandmother might have the same lamp on display in her living room back home, or you could score an authentic concert tee shirt of your favorite band from the 70’s! The purchasing possibilities in the Redlands Galleria are endless. 

Two floors of maze-like arrangements of antiques are housed in the Redlands Galleria.

 

Along Prospect Drive is the stunning French château-style Victorian mansion, Kimberly Crest, offering house tours for only several dollars, and event reservations. It is a three-story home boasting koi ponds and Italian gardens, and friendly docents lead tour groups through the mansion each half-hour to explore the interior of Kimberly Crest, namely the antique furniture. Beautiful statues and engraved plaques welcome guests at the front of the property, and an outside wall of lavender blooms in the spring. If historical architecture isn’t really your speed, however, perhaps it will interest you instead to learn the Kimberly Crest grounds were used as the setting of both a Fleetwood Mac music video, and Hell Night, the 80’s cult classic slasher flick starring Linda Blair.

Kimberly Crest is situated on a hill across from Prospect Park.

 

One of the more unconventional landmarks Redlands boasts is the only one of its kind this side of the Mississippi River: the Lincoln Memorial Shrine. Built of limestone, Lincoln’s speeches are excerpted on bricks along the walls. While it is certainly unique to house this memorial, as Lincoln had no known connection to Redlands, the connections between our former president and the city make more sense after knowing the background of Robert Watchorn (namesake of our very own Watchorn Hall) and his personal fascination with Lincoln. Both were self-made and used education to achieve “the American Dream,” so Watchorn idolized Lincoln, seeing much of himself reflected in the man. This personal love of Lincoln was something Watchorn shared with his son, Emory. When Emory passed away from complications after his WWI aircraft was hit with anti-aircraft fire, the Watchorn family built the Lincoln Shrine in their home to memorialize their fallen soldier. Knowing the history behind such a beautifully crafted building, and understanding the love the Watchorn family invested into honoring their son, provides the unusual landmark with a clear place in Redlands. It is not hard to feel sentimental when visiting this museum, because of both the president’s legacy of leadership, and the legacy of love between a parent and a child. 

A bust of Abraham Lincoln presides over his memorial.

 

The next time your friends feel sick of the coffee on-campus and decide to grab morning pick-me-ups at Augie’s downtown, consider checking out one of these spots, or any other points of interest you’ve heard about from locals! Exploring the city you reside in, even if you’re only here until graduation, is a great way to make connections, create exciting memories with friends, and learn about the beautiful town of Redlands so your home-away-from-home doesn’t feel so foreign. 

A pond on the grounds of Kimberly Crest is teeming with life in the spring.


Photographs by Kyle Eaton.




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