The Herman A. Westerbrook Residence


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.
2012 Heritage Award

The Herman A. Westerbrook Residence
756 Cajon Street

This home was built by Garret Huizing for Herman and Lessie Westerbrook, in 1926. The Provincial Style home is a good example of the period between World War I and World War II when this “revival” style was made popular by service personnel returning from Europe.

The front multi-pane door of this home is offset below a low gable and recessed within an arched porch. The typical balance is achieved via a pair of distinctive windows which are broadly arched and divided vertically into four panes with two mullions, each, of which the center section is a double hung casement window. Interest is achieved via the addition of two other steeply sloped gables to the left and right of the door. A rectangular window is placed near the center under a low exposed rafter roof line which affords a pleasant outdoor space. This corner house has a second entrance under a fourth gable and this is contained within an arched porch which is just visible from behind the large tree. The rear elevation has contrasting roof lines and levels and an additional gable. The original ribbon driveway lines are visible leading to a small garage with a flat roof. The home construction is of plaster, painted light brown with white trim, blue detaining and has a composition roof.

Herman Westerbrook was born in Holland in 1882 and immigrated to the United States in 1899. The 1900 census shows Herman aged 18 living in Passaic, New Jersey. He became a naturalized citizen at the Superior Court in San Bernardino and on September 12, 1918, he registered for the World War I, draft. In these records he described himself as having all his arms and legs, of tall-slender build with brown hair and brown eyes and the husband of Lessie Belle. He showed his residence as Ventura California and his employer as Ventura County Surveyor.

The original building permits are not on file at the city, however, Herman and Lessie are listed as living in the home in the 1933 and 1936 city directory. Prior to that time they lived nearby at 918 Cajon and before that at 121 Center Street and 605 University Street. While no information is listed as to Lessie’s occupation or personal interests outside the home, Herman is listed as the Redlands City Engineer, and was a licensed surveyor. Of the published list of licenses issued between 1901 and 2001, Herman held license number 826. He is known to have urged the city to acquire, secure and preserve the watershed of the high meadows lands of Mill Creek Canyon east of Mountain Home Village. As a result the city of Redlands now owns the “Eyes of the World Meadow” just east of the village to Monkey Face Falls and the Forest Home intersection with Highway 38.

Interestingly Garret Huizing was born in Holland a few years before Herman and like Herman; he also lived for at least a while in New Jersey. Herman Westerbrook traveled to Rotterdam and returned to the United States at least three times including once in 1928 at the age of 47 and again in 1953. Herman died of a heart attack, while on vacation in the National Forest of Alberta Canada at the age of 77. At that time the couple was living in Laguna Beach, on Cypress Drive. The state department records indicate that he was returned to his wife via a formal process and he rests today in the Hillside Cemetery.

Other owners of the property and their approximate dates of residence include the Melchers (1943-44), Commander I. W. Thompson (1945-49), Col. J. G. Richards (1955), Dr. Charles J. Dougherty (1968-1976) and Louis Barlow (1985-1986). Improvements completed by these owners included electrical work, kitchen & bathroom remodeling, fencing, the addition of the side porch, and the construction of a wood shed.

John and Joan Benson purchased the property in 1986 from the Barlow family and while they lived away from the home for a short while in the mid-1990s their care and consideration of this great example of a Huizing home is quite obvious. Over the years they have removed improvements made in earlier years including a spa and wooden desk and updated the kitchen. They have upgraded the fencing and the landscaping and added heating and air conditioning which were not present when they purchased the home.

The Redlands Area Historic Society is very pleased to present a Heritage Award to John and Joan Benson as a tribute to their effort to preserve and safeguard this historic home.

Researched by: Leslie Irish

11 June 2012