Born in 1834, Cornelia Ann Jordon was married to her childhood sweetheart, Robert Hill, in 1854. Both were members of propertied families living in the farm country of the lower Hudson Valley. In 1874, Mr. Hill traded the farm where they were living for a house on the best residential street (High Street) of Middletown, New York. This was a substantial two-story house, which still stands, but was not of a distinguished style. For a time Robert Hill was in the coal and lumber business, but his ample means appear to have been derived from farm properties.
For 11 years, Mrs. Hill was to endure a series of devastating sorrows. Of their six daughters, four died between 1873 and 1880. Also, suffering from tuberculosis, Mr. Hill came to California in 1882, by way of the Ithumas of Panama, accompanied by his wife and two daughters. Returning to Middletown, however, he continued to fail and died in 1884. Widowed, Mrs. Hill traveled extensively, making three trips around the world. It is not known why Mrs. Hill came to Redlands, but it is highly probable that she met and was influenced by Albert K. Smiley. In Middletown, the Hills had not lived far from the Smiley resort, Mohonk Mountain House.
In 1896 she bought the knoll top property from Edward G. Judson and started the landscaping. In 1897, she engaged the Los Angeles architectural firm of Dennis and Farwell to design a petite chateau for her. The home, now known as Kimberly Crest, was constructed quickly by Davis Donald and Mrs. Hill occupied it in October. At this time her granddaughters, Olive and Mae Cary, where living with her. Her daughter, Mabel, married Clarence A. Watson and built a home across Prospect Drive where the Adam/Sloan house now stands. Later, the Watsons built another home on Prospect (Cotton residence).
Interior of Kimberly Crest
One winter Mrs. Hill leased the home to Olive and Caroline Stokes who would later build their own mansion on Mariposa Drive. In December 1905, Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Kimberly purchased the chateau with the change of title occurring on January 2, 1906. Mrs. Hill then relocated in Redlands and built a more modest homes at 1113 West Palm Avenue, near San Mateo Street. However, she owned a quite substantial home in Carlsbad, and until her death in 1923 she spent much of her time in that beach city.
Cornelia and Robert Hill are buried in adjoining graves in the Methodist Church cemetery at Bullville, New York not far from Middletown.
[Source: Kimberly Crest Biographical Sketch, revised August 1986.]