Judge George E. Otis Home


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.
Heritage Award 1976

Judge George E. Otis Home
1012 West Highland Avenue

Judge Otis had several homes and a business block constructed while residing in Redlands. He arrived in Redlands in 1875. The first home was built in 1888 at 1076 Brookside Avenue and is popularly known as the “Jennie Davis” home. He sold this home to the Davis family in 1898.

On July 30, 1898, Otis contacted with D. M. Donald to build a new residence at the northwest corner of Highland Avenue and Monterey Street. The estimated cost was $6,500 with an additional sum appropriated for the plans.

Donald dubbed the style “colonial” despite Victorian dentils and eclectic woodwork. The two-story house originally had fifteen rooms and according to the Citrograph was painted a light green with hues of yellow near the roofline. The water hook-up was August 10, 1898, and the Otis family remained in the home until 1908.

About 1922 William E. Howard, a former Reynolds Tobacco Co. official, purchased the home and conducted extensive redecoration. A unique 20 by 40 den was added in 1925 with an imported Italian floor, two-story rock fireplace, beamed ceiling and an inside-outside fishpond divided by a bay window. Redlands is still talking about the fishpond and references to its imaginative inventor.

Edward Langley, Douglas Fairbanks’ art director in Robin Hood did the six-foot mahogany wainscoating, painted the wall murals, and in the Chinese room painted the read and gold-leaf wood carved valances.

Howard added to this atmosphere his Alaskan museum collection of bearskins, stuffed birds and antlers to ornament his den.

In 1927, Mr. and Mrs. Chauncy H. Clem purchased this unique home. The tennis court on the Monterey side of the home is said to be the first lighted court in Southern California and was used a great deal by the Redlands Preparatory School on Palm Avenue. The school was operated by the Seuss girls.