Frank Jameson Symmes Home


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.

Frank Jameson Symmes Residence

1638 Garden Street


Frank Jameson Symmes commissioned Robert C. Cunningham, at a cost of $10,000.00, to build this home in 1910. This was a large sum in those days and the size and quality of construction reflect its value. Mr. Symmes was a banker, engineer, and merchant, controlling large commercial interests. He came from San Francisco.

The house is built in the Mission Revival style and is both elegant and comfortable. Set high on its hill in the center of broad terraces the building commands a unique position. From the top of the knoll there is a magnificent view of the city below, as well as of the San Bernardino mountain range. At the same time this position guarantees privacy and serenity.

 The covered, triple-arched porch, beneath its tin-lined, crowning parapet, faces the mountains to the northeast. On the opposite side of the home a second entrance features an imported Mexican fountain, highlighting a courtyard. This courtyard is set into the traditional “U” shaped Spanish home and provides tranquility for the rooms facing it as, at the same time, it offers an invitation for guests to enter.

Philanthropist, investor, storyteller, best selling author, friend, advisor and speechwriter to President Franklin Roosevelt, Howard Marsh owned and lived in this house for 48 years from 1926 to 1974. He died here at the age of 80. Marsh’s son tells that Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt was a guest here in 1947, when she came to speak at the University of Redlands. In 1926 Marsh had a studio house constructed for his own use. He brought in the Pueblo style in this charming small structure, which he named Casita. Mrs. Marsh’s contributions were many, among them sub­stantial grants to the Redlands Community Hospital.

Today this lovely home, aptly named “Casa de Serenidad,” belongs to Dr. and Mrs. Gary Grove and their four children. It is also home to five beautifully behaved cats and a small cocker spaniel named Pupcake. The Groves have done much to update and beautify this home, always retaining its original authenticity and beauty.

The Redlands Area Historical society is proud to honor this unique example of Redlands’ heritage and to commend the stewardship of its present owners.