2022 HERITAGE AWARD RECIPIENT
The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.
The Frederick Harris Home
121 East Fern Avenue
In the Winter of 1905, permit #498 was approved to build a new 1½ story residence at 121 East Fern Avenue in the Atwood & Ford #1 Tract on lot 12. The home measures approximately 34’ x 48’ and will consist of 7 rooms. Mr. Fredrick T. Harris was the first owner and architect of this one-of-a-kind home. At the time Harris had his office headquarters in the Redlands National Bank and is credited with many projects in town including Supervising Architect of the Fire Department on 5th St in 1902, Moresque style plans for an $8,000 building in the Cram School district in 1902, and plans for the staircase for the YMCA in 1901. In addition, Harris was responsible for the Rohrer-Cortner Company Mortuary, the Redlands Masonic Temple, and the Lugonia Grammar School Kindergarten building. Harris occupied multiple residences in the city as well at 20 Washington, 115 E. Fern, 205 E. Fern, and 103 Nordina. Mr. E. E. Haynes was contracted to build the $2,000 structure to include plumbing and electrical. The home is in the current East Fern Avenue Historic and Scenic District and is on the list of Historic Resources.
In the 1907-08 directories Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Clyma Lelean are listed as occupants. The Lelean family were prominent in Redlands for ownership and operation of the Eagle House featuring dry goods and men’s furnishings located first at 215 Orange St. and then, at 18-20 E. State. They also resided at many addresses in Redlands. Samuel C. and Laura E. Lelean were at 121 E. Fern until 1913.
Charles E. Hubach, the Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Redlands occupied the home along with his wife Amelia from 1915-1917.
Replacing the Hubach family was Edward A. and Elanor M. Sperry. Sperry was associated as an agent with the Singer Sewing Machine Co. at 8 E. Citrus.
From 1921 to 1930 Christie (C.P.) and Grace Earley resided in the home. Mr. Earley was a leader in the citrus industry and general manager of Mutual Orange Distributors. The couple and their six children had relocated from Massachusetts to Riverside and then, to Redlands.
G.H. and Lelia McDonald arrive at Fern in 1931. Lelia is listed as a widow in 1933, but continued ownership and occupancy until somewhere between 1941 and 1945. Before his death Mr. McDonald is credited with adding a bath, toilet, and changing the staircase.
Frank B. and Jennie Maye Frye owned the home for just a couple of years before Henry W. and Dorothy (Rhea) Schlag took ownership.
Although used for multi-generational and roommate purposes in the past, a 1948 permit was granted to alter the residence by changing partitions for conversion to apartments. Schlag and his wife owned and operated the 3-unit apartment building for 43 years. The Schlags were very involved with the Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society among other organizations and hosted many well-documented meetings and parties at the Fern property. Dorothy sold the home sometime between 1991-92 following the death of Henry in 1987.
In 1986 Keith and Cyndie Goodrich, local field report volunteers, performed a visual and historical inspection for the purposes of a Historic Resources Inventory. Other than calling it a private residence currently divided into several apartments, much of the description is still wildly accurate today. It is called a “Craftsman Bungalow”, “rectangular, 1½ stories tall. The foundation is of red clay brick and there is a full basement. The front of the house has a high- pitched gabled roof with 7 decorative brackets supporting a decorative fascia. At the peak of the wall, near the gable peak are 3 louvered roof vents and directly below is an oriole window with 2 multi-paned casement windows. This roof is of the same pitch as the main gable roof. To the right and left of this window are 5 (each side respectively) “pigeon holes”. The main porch and front doorway are located left of center on the south facing side of the home. A semi-circular arch frames a recessed porch that is two steps up from ground level.” The low and wide style of arch is commonly referred to as a Romanesque or Richardsonian Arch which was also used on the A.K. Smiley Library and Allen/Berry home at 1145 West Highland Avenue. The arches are typically fashioned out of stone or masonry. This one is rare due to it being wood. “The cement porch is also open to the west side. The entry consists of a door with sidelights and all have 2/3 glass tops with 1/3 panel bottom. The features in the front of the house are carried out on the side and the back, all have non decorative support brackets supporting a decorative fascia, exposed rafters and mainly multi-paned casement windows. The elevations differ, however, since the east side has 2 shed dormers and the west side has one large gabled dormer with eaves that have exposed rafters consistent with the rest of the house. The west facing wall has a bay.”
The residence and garage are fully wrapped in shingled siding and currently painted in a muted dark tan with white trim and burgundy accents. Through the years this home has gone through major interior transformations. However, there are many original features intact including picture rails, pocket doors with hardware, and mill work.
The next handful of owners did some improvements here and there as evidenced by city permits. They were Norry Hass in 1992, Terry Royer 2004, and Jeffrey and Darcy Temple in 2012.
Neil Rhodes and Lee-Anne Milburn purchase the property in 2016 and are credited with the large undertaking of the Mills Act application and processes in 2018, the addition of drought tolerant front landscaping, awnings, and solar power generation making the vintage home much more efficient to run.
Our most recent proud owners are Stephen Plante and Alexis Peralta as of August 2021. Stephen and Alexis discovered Redlands while on a work service call. Intrigued by what they found they would make regular trips to Redlands coffee shops, and partake in walking and biking excursions. Although they first thought of renting, they ended up purchasing at 818 E. Colton in February of 2020. When Fern came on the market two years later, they just had to have it. The huge basement and over-sized garage were terrific selling points as Stephen is an accomplished custom handcrafted bicycle maker with Alexis at his side. There are many plans to continue the period correct improvements on the property during their ownership. The Redlands Area Historical Society is honored to present this 2022 Heritage award to our Fern neighbors.
Researched & written: Jill Huntsinger
Presented 13 June 2022