Hamilton Block


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.
Heritage Award 2011

Hamilton Block
330 Orange Street
Built 1888

This downtown building housed for decades a Redlands institution: Carlson Hardware. Constructed in 1888 by Taylor Brothers brick contractors the building has an identical twin at 216-218 Orange Street. With the completion of the California Southern Railroad (Santa Fe) and San Bernardino and Redlands Railroad to Orange Street in 1888 the downtown shifted to the main transportation hub.

R. M. Hamilton, a Chicago Colony 1886 pioneer, invested on Orange Street with two new brick block buildings. The “Hamilton Block” has seen several major renovations. Originally the building was divided into two halves for two different businesses and a family domicile located up a center stairway. The flat roof and parapet along with the three-second story windows are of the original design. Two projecting square bay windows decorated the exterior with the center window highlighted with a keystone plaster monumental motif. Plain black metal plates still reinforce the four-layer brick wall exterior.

In 1888, “The Citrograph” newspaper rented one half of the building to print commercial items and a hay and feed store owned by Bennet Cave, a newly elected city councilman, opened in the other half. White Star Laundry and Empire Laundry competitively shared the building in the early 1900’s. In 1908 G. W. Van Buskirk advertised second story lodging and J. L. Harris had a barber shop.

In 1912, the city directory lists August Heim Motorcycles, C. O. Workman rooms for rent, and the Charles Wattawa Furniture Store. Heim switched to bicycle repair in 1915 and then auto supplies in 1919 following the revolutions of transportation in America. M.G. Van Loan Jeweler was a fixture in the building from 1917-1933.

The practical August Heim lived with his family upstairs in 1923 when he opened August Heim Hardware.This began the nine decades of hardware business on Orange Street. Contractor H. E. Ringle completed a remodel for $1500 in 1925 according to the building permit. Plaster was added to the exterior and the two bay windows were removed at this time.

Another remodel took place in 1945. Bates and Carlson Hardware opened and began using the upstairs part of the building for storage. From 1946 to 1960 F. P. Bates and Keith Carlson partnership continued on Orange Street. By 1960 Carlson owned the building and hardware store. Redlanders reveled in the service Carlson’s provided. Expert salesmen could provide sage advice and one could buy a single screw if necessary. Every nook and cranny of the building was pragmatically used. Alley access even allowed for lengthy pipe storage and owning a Victorian home with strange obsolete plumbing or electrical hardware never posed a challenge for Carlson Hardware. Andy Carlson continued the business until selling the building in 1990.

Gary Romano purchased the building and began the most extensive remodel in the buildings’ history. Hiring local architect, Leon Armantrout, the exterior was restored to the original brick façade and the two bay windows reappeared after an eighty-five year absence. New electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, floor joists, and stair case are employed. The wrought iron railing hails from the La Posada Hotel as well as the old hotel sign.

Romano’s Italian Restaurant and Chicago Pizzeria has won the Redlands Conservancy’s Adaptive Reuse Award for preservation. The Redlands Area Historical Society seconds that recognition with a Heritage Award. The buildings historic integrity has been restored to the original exterior. Period appropriate interior appointments adorn the first and second floor. Redlands downtown photographs are displayed in the second story hallway reminding all that enter that this is a historic downtown building. We gratefully thank Gary Romano for his contribution to the Orange Street streetscape.

Researched/written by Tom Atchley