Michael Henry Fitzsimmons House


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.

Michael Henry Fitzsimmons Home

428 Summit Avenue


Michael H. Fitzsimmons, who was born in Lancashire, England in 1863 was known as M.H. to his friends. Like many children he spent his days going to school, playing cricket and working in a cotton mill. At age 10 his mother died and at age 13 his father died, leaving him and his younger brother alone in the care of relatives. At age 18 he decided to come to America and lived with his aunt in Orange, N.J.. His first employment was taking fur off the skins to make men’s hats. He came to California in 1890 with friends, Charles and Katherine Meigs, who owned a ranch near Santa Barbara. He came to Redlands in 1895 upon hearing raving reports about this new community.

This one and a half story home has a medium bellcast gable roof. A gable dormer faces north and contains a three sash window. The wooden porch is supported by four wooden posts. An interesting feature of this home is the front door. It is very large and has a large square glass pane at the top. The center of the door is divided, allowing it to be a dutch door. On either side of this door are glass side lites. The northwest comer contains a polygonal bay with three windows.

A deed, dated April,19,1897, shows a Katherine Meigs, a widow, purchasing the property from David and Edith Judson of New York. On Nov.30, 1897, part of that property was granted to M.H. Fitzsimmons for the sum of $1.00. The Citrograph building list for Feb.11, 1899 lists M.H. Fitzimmons-residentual building – $2100.00. The house was built on the summit side and orange groves were planted to the south, extending to Franklin. Mr. Fitzimmons was a orange rancher until 1905 when he purchased a partnership from C.R. Vesper, and the undertaking firm of Vesper and Dow. The name then changed to Dow and Fitzsimmons. In 1906 the establishment moved from Citrus to 259 Cajon, a building especially built by Henry Fisher.

Mr. Fitzimmons was married twice. In 1895 he married Nellie Tague of Illinois. They had one daughter, Helen, who graduated from the University of Redlands with a music degree. She taught music here before marrying and moving to North Hollywood. Nellie died in 1917 and he married his second wife, Louise Gordon in 1919. M.H. Fitzsimmons died June 1940. He had a heart attack while downtown in Redlands conducting business.

In 1921 an Andrew and Margaret Lee purchased two lots and by 1924 purchased the rest of the Fitzsimmons property. Mr. Lee was a Osteopathic Physician and Surgeon-practicing in the Fisher building. The house was rented for some years and purchased in 1938 by Rev. Jacob and Christiana Bolt. He was pastor for the First Christian Reform Church. He retired and they resided in the house until about 1961. Three other families lived in the home until Sam and Annette Sewall purchased the home in 1988.

The Sewall family had lived across the street at 419 summit since 1965. Mr. Sewall’s grandfather purchased the house from Mrs. Meigs in 1917. Sam and Annette did extensive work on their home. One interesting feature of the home was a brick water tank in the attic. That was removed and the bricks were used in the back patio.

The Historical Society thanks the Sewall Family for taking such good care of this historic property.