Judge H. T. and Christmas Dewhirst Residence


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.
Heritage Award 2014

Judge H. T. and Christmas Dewhirst Residence
105 Summit Avenue

Harry Thomas Dewhirst was born in 1881 and came to Redlands about 1913, having previously served as San Bernardino County District Attorney from 1906 to 1908. He was soon appointed to the Superior Court bench. He and his wife, Christmas, had a beautiful home constructed in 1917 at 105 Summit Avenue, one block from the street car line.

The Dewhirsts and their children only occupied the residence for a brief time. Judge Dewhirst shocked the community when he discovered The House of David, a religious sect, and stopped shaving and cutting his hair. He quit the Elks Club and the Methodist church, and began predicting the Second Coming. In January 1919 he resigned from the bench, and entered into the official record a strange “pronunciemento” consisting of prophetic bible quotes. Within a year, he sold his home and orange grove and moved his family to the sect’s communal headquarters at Benton Harbor, Michigan, where the sect operated a successful amusement park and even had two traveling baseball teams. Harry eventually became its leader.

Cora Smedburg was a wealthy San Francisco spinster when she married Charles Norton Felton, Jr., son of a state senator from Menlo Park. They were “wintering” on Highland Avenue in 1920 when they decided to buy the Dewhirst property for $18,000. Mr. Felton died soon after and his widow, who traveled frequently, often rented out the house.

In 1929 the house finally became a home when it was purchased by Andrew and Margaret Lee. Dr. Lee, an osteopathic surgeon, and his wife raised five children in the home. Its lovely grounds were often featured on the annual garden tour. The Lees continued to reside in the home until their deaths in the 1970s.

Subsequent owners include the Cohen, Lewter, Wood, and Corcoran families. Gary & Sue Baughman are the current owners and purchased the residence in 2011.

One enters the property from Bow B, where a cement drive winds into the porte cochere, at the front entrance. This two-story Craftsman structure is cross-gabled and constructed of wood. It sits upon a river rock foundation, and has two chimneys and a porte cochere supported by monumental tapered pedestals of the same material.

The house faces north, with a partial-width front porch to take advantage of the stunning vistas of the San Bernardino Mountains and the valley below. The unadorned front door has French doors on each side. This side has large, fixed center windows flanked by smaller sashed ones, and it is from this elevation that one can see the “aero plane” features of the house – with the second story resembling the cockpit, the first story the wings and the porte cochere the nose of the plane.

Spanish tile covers the low-pitched roof with wide, unenclosed eave overhangs supported by brackets. Ribbon windows and an exterior stone chimney grace the west elevation. The view of the home from Summit Avenue shows the trellised porch and side door. French doors open onto a partial-width porch on the second level, above the more formal street-side entrance.

The grounds are exquisitely landscaped, and highlight other structures on the property – the playhouse, or guesthouse, the garage and the infinity pool. The Redlands Area Historical Society is honored to present this award to homeowners Gary and Sue Baughman.

Researched by: Marie Reynolds

16 June 2014