Lewis F. Case Residence


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.
Heritage Award 2012

Lewis F. Case Residence
31539 East Highland Avenue, Mentone

For many years, this beautiful home was the very last house on Highland Avenue in “Craftonville”. Lewis F. Case purchased this former piece of the Crafton Retreat property from Eliza P. R. Crafts and Harry Horton in 1899. Case bought several lots and had the house built in 1902 for his father, Alonzo, and step-mother, Kate. The Case’s 15-acre ranch was located at the base of the Crafton Hills, and the site chosen for the house was on Highland Avenue, east of “C” Street (now vacated) and just west of the Crafton canal.

This one-and-a-half story Arts & Crafts cottage is constructed of redwood. Cross-gabled with an asymmetrical front facade, it sits upon a stone foundation. The partial-width porch wraps around to the west. Five monumental porch supports dominate the area. They are cut granite with sloping sides from foundation to ceiling under a decorative trim of inverted triangles. The front door is at the east end of the entry porch, where the north gable extends. There is a trio of windows west of the door.

The first floor is plastered and the second is wood shingled. There is a shed dormer above the porch with french doors leading to a balcony. The east and west gables are dominant. They have a series of three windows with the crowns repeating the same triangular elements as the porch trim below, and are flanked by small single windows. The gables are shingled, and the vent decorations are simple vertical slats. Wide, overhanging eaves have triangular knee braces ornamenting the enclosed roof rafters. The east gable features a balcony.

A drive edged by deodar cedars leads from Highland Avenue to the carriage barn. The current homeowners had this steeply pitched two-story structure constructed featuring many of the decorative elements of the main house.

Alonzo Case died in 1916, and is buried in Missouri. His widow, Kate, who remarried in 1918 but was divorced by 1920, continued to live in the home until her death on Christmas Eve, 1926. Mrs. Case was active in the Contemporary Club of Redlands and was a president of the Crafton Women’s Club.

William and Mary Nye purchased the ranch from the Case estate in 1927. The Nyes came to Highland in 1891, where their daughter married into the pioneer Cram family. William, Sr. died shortly after purchasing the Crafton house, but Mary continued to live there with her son and his family until her death in 1937. William, Jr. or “Pop” and his wife, Ruth, raised their two young children in the home. The Nyes were ranchers, and “Pop” was very active with the Boy Scouts here in Grayback District. “Pop” Nye died in 1973 and a memorial scouting competition is still held annually in his honor. Upon Ruth’s death in 1986, their daughter Elizabeth inherited the home. Miss Elizabeth Nye worked for many years as a secretary for the Boy Scouts and was an early docent at Kimberly Crest. Miss Nye sold the property to the current owners, Dean & Cyndi Hovey in 1991.

The Hoveys were looking for a more rural atmosphere to raise their children, with room enough for their business of manufacturing ceramic subway tiles. Since purchasing the home the Hoveys have replaced an early garage with a workshop, added the carriage barn and transformed the backyard from a dusty drive into a lush, tropical paradise. A new pergola replaced the old clothesline that still supports an aged wisteria vine, and they were careful to preserve an old rock barbeque and cement work with both Ruth and Elizabeth Nye’s imprints.

There are still about 100 citrus trees on the 2.3-acre property. Throughout, the varied rock work of the retaining walls, walks and stairs remains in excellent condition. The Redlands Area Historical Society commends Dean and Cyndi Hovey for their meticulous restoration of this Crafton gem.

Research by: Marie Reynolds

11 June 2012