St. Louis Villa – 2024


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.

St. Louis Villa

223 W. Olive Avenue


In May 1902, lot #2 of the Vermont tract was purchased by the firm Hight & Dunn for $1400. John Hight, Jr. and Robert Dunn were partners in a real estate and insurance business downtown. Two months later, Dunn married Hight’s younger sister, Tennessee, and the newlyweds constructed a $4000, 13-room home on the lot at the southwest corner of Olive and Grant. Tragically, Mrs. Dunn died shortly before her 20th birthday, in February 1903. Mr. Dunn sold the property to Mrs. Helen Bluestar, a widow from St. Louis, who immediately added on to the structure and opened the residence as a rooming house called St. Louis Villa.

Mrs. Bluestar sold the property to Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Brock in 1909, though Mrs. Bluestar continued to stay on until her death in 1915. Archibald E. Brock had a long career in public service, as school trustee, city treasurer, mayor, and state assemblyman. Brock and his wife, Grace, occupied the house with their tenants. After the Brocks passed away, the apartment building had a series of absentee owners and eventually fell into disrepair. It sat empty for several years until it was purchased by William Ung and his wife, Lang Thai.

The architectural style of this wood, two-story structure is Classic Box. It has an irregular-shaped hipped roof, with two identical hipped dormers with louvered and pierced wood attic vents on the north and west. The wide eave overhang has dentil trim. Seven concrete steps lead to the paneled front door, which has a glass window, with dentil details below the sill. There are two double-hung contiguous windows to its right, and a wide window with a diamond-paned transom to the left. Above the porch are four double-hung windows. The porch is supported by eight wooden columns and wraps around the east side. The railing is box patterned, both open and closed, and there is an open box trim at the top. At the east end of the porch is another entrance, with 3 over 3 paned windows in the door.

A striking feature of the east elevation is a two-story canted bay, whose center windows also have the same diamond-paned transoms seen previously. Above the bay is a diamond-shingled dormer with a circular, pierced attic vent.

The back, or south side, of the structure has a staircase leading to the upper units. Entrances to other units are below and to the south, which is the 1903 addition.

The west elevation features a second story canted bay with a small center window with a diamond-paned transom. Both floors have double-hung windows of varying sizes.

Though the new owners purchased the apartment house with approved plans for renovation, they’ve encountered several challenges along the way, including working with the city in an historic and scenic district and supply shortages during the COVID epidemic.

The Redlands Area Historical Society is pleased to recognize William Ung and his wife, Lang Thai for saving this beautiful building and painstakingly renovating to the high preservation standards needed in an historic and scenic district of the city of Redlands.

Presented on June 12, 2024. Research by Marie Reynolds and Karen Flippin.