The Rex & Louise Jones House – 2023


The Redlands Area Historical Society, Inc.

The Rex & Louise Jones Home

215 Gran View Drive


Set with a commanding view of Redlands and the San Bernardino Mountains on the brow of Nob Hill in Redlands Heights, is a Spanish Revival home with Mission, Pueblo, and Mediterranean Revival detailings descending down the hillside two stories to terraced gardens beneath. Built by notable Redlands homebuilder, Gordon Donald, the plans for the four bedroom, three bathroom, 3,313 square foot house were commissioned in 1925 by Louise Seymour Jones and Rex Lander Jones of Chicago, Illinois. The house occupies 0.86 acres on the view-side of this iconic Redlands street, and in continuing the theme of the Heritage Award given in 2022 for 361 Franklin Avenue, is a third link in the chain of Redlands’ Pulitzer story.

 The Grand View neighborhood took shape within the Carter Terrace Subdivision of 1924 on the former terraced orange grove of the Kingsbury family. The neighborhood soon became populated with many prominent Redlands families of the 1920s. Typical of the revival styles of California’s 1920s, the architecture of 215 Grand View is an eclectic collection of Pueblo, Spanish, Mediterranean and Mission stylings. The ornamental gateway with arbor at the front of the house, south-facing, as well as use of multi-level exterior stairways at the rear of the house are highly unique Pueblo details evocative of the American Southwest.

 The house is slightly V-shaped, hugging to the contour of the hillside and has an open gable tiled roof. The front door of the house is arched with ornamental vertical wood timbers in a Mission style. There are two pairs of multi-pane mullioned casement windows, and the siding of the house is white-washed plaster, much in keeping with Mission Revival detailing.

 Original features of the north elevation include more mullioned casement windows and arched french doors opening onto the first terrace of the terraced gardens. On the second level, a Mediterranean-style arcaded peristyle of five arches supported by Ionic columns functioning as a highly-unique exterior hallway and patio opening off of three of the upper level’s rooms. The gardens are laid out on three levels of the former terraces of the Kingsbury’s citrus grove.

 At the west side of the house, beneath the gable of the roof is a glazed Spanish-style terracotta vent with some Art Deco influences. An addition and carport were added at the west side of the house after 1969. Down what is formerly Culvert Street sits the original detached garage.

 The Jones family appears to have been coming to Redlands at least since 1921, prior to which they appear to have wintered in the Los Angeles and Pasadena areas. Gordon Donald completed the property in 1926, and the family occupied it as a full-time residence. The house was valued at $15,000 in the 1930 Census.

 Rex Lander Jones was born in Chicago in 1874 to William Jones and Mary Frances Lander, one of the three prominent Gilded Age beauties of Chicago known as the “Lander Sisters.” Each of the three sisters, born into a Great Lakes shipping family, married prominent figures in Chicago’s Gilded Age. Mary Frances married William Jones of the Chicago meatpacking firm Jones & Styles, part of the “English Syndicate” with Philip Armour and Gustavus Swift.

 Rex Lander Jones made use of his Chicago meatpacking connections, coming to the directorship of a family business, Fargo, Keith, & Co., with his cousin Earl Lander Hambleton and his cousin’s father-in-law Charles Meeker Fargo. In 1925, Rex Lander Jones retired from the firm, selling their home on the North Shore and moving to Redlands full-time until his death in 1949.

 Louise Martha Seymour is no less deserving of attention than her husband. Born at Racine, Wisconsin in 1877 to Annie E. Jones (no relation to her husband) and Horatio Winslow Seymour, journalistic innovator, news editor, political commentator, and eventual publisher in his own right. Seymour is considered to have been an early developer of the sensational news headline and influenced the outcomes of presidential elections as a nationally syndicated commentator before being appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Joseph Pulitzer newspaper syndicate. He began resorting in Pasadena every winter from 1900 to 1920 on the advice of his
friend, publisher Andrew McNally, and later assisted the Pulitzers in establishing the Columbia University School of Journalism in 1912, with his library forming the core of the school’s library.

 Louise Seymour appears to have received her father’s taste and penchant for writing as well as his encouragement and support, becoming a successful author in her own right. Louise Seymour was an internationally-published, best-selling author on horticulture and on bookplates, of which she assembled what is still one of the world’s largest collections, donating it to Scripps College. Her terraced gardens were likely the inspiration for her best-seller, Who Loves a Garden (1934).

 The Jones family appears to have taken to Redlands immediately. At a Christmas party attended by Redlands notables at the Wissahickon Inn, Rex Jones played the part of Santa Claus during a White Elephant gift swap. Louise was engaged with Trinity Episcopal Church, the Contemporary Club, and assisted fellow Wisconsonians Helen Kimberly and Mary Shirk as an advisor to the Kimberly Juniors. Rex and Louise Jones are both buried at Hillside Cemetery in Redlands.

 The house was then home to a series of doctors’ families, first to Tirzah & Dr. Robert J. McCandless, a radiologist, from 1951 to 1956. In 1956, the house was occupied by Irene &
Dr. Charles W. Harrison, Jr., a surgeon. In 1969, the home was sold to Marcia & Dr. Paul Swanson, a dentist, who have a long association with the house. In the tradition of the house, Dr. & Mrs. Swanson played a role in the club-life and philanthropy of Redlands. Dr. Swanson was President of Optimist Club International and volunteered dental services for Family Services. Many Kimberly Juniors have memories of visiting Mrs. Swanson as an advisor for Kimberly Juniors. In 2022, Molly & Ron Burgess purchased the home and likewise continue 215 Grand View’s tradition of civic involvement. The Redlands Area Historical Society congratulates Molly & Ron Burgess on their 2023 Heritage Award and for their stewardship of this Redlands treasure.

Research by John P. Beall

Presented: 12 June 2023