Meeting # 1817
December 1, 2011
Twenty Years at Kimberly Crest: A Labor of Love for a Historic Home
By Edgar Losee
Well before my retirement from the Redlands Unified School District, I had often thought about what I would do with my leisure time. Yes, ideas like more time to read, garden, travel, and learn to play golf, all came to mind.
Just prior to my retirement, I enjoyed serving on the Family Service Board. When Julian Blakeley (Chair of the Board at Kimberly Crest) asked me to join the Kimberly Crest Board in 1990, “Yes” was my ready response. The history of Kimberly Crest was familiar to me. I had met Mrs. Mary Shirk. My in-laws, Malcolm and Pelty Chambers, worked for the Prospect Park acquisition and Pelty was a docent for many years at Kimberly Crest. Mr. Larry Burgess, historian and director of A.K. Smiley Library, and I had worked with the Assistance League Auxiliary to include Kimberly Crest as a stop in the city tour. (The tour is still a part of the 4th grade curriculum.)
Since my introduction to the Board twenty years ago, I have held overlapping positions as a Board member for nineteen of those years, President of the Board of Trustees for two years, a docent for six years, and have served in an active role on the Building and Equipment Committee for eighteen years. In 2010 Larry Burgess wrote an article for the Redlands Daily Facts explaining how the old Kimberly Crest house required good maintenance and stewardship. His article inspired me to write this paper about my twenty years of experience at Kimberly Crest with an emphasis on maintenance, stewardship, major events, and highlights during that time.
For those readers not familiar with this California State Historic Landmark, I begin this paper with a brief introduction to the early years at this unique house. The property most of you all know as “Kimberly Crest” was purchased in 1896 from E. G. Judson, co-founder of Redlands. The buyer was Mrs. Cornelia Hill, a native of New York State. In 1897 she engaged a Los Angeles, California firm to design a French petite chateau for her. Next she hired Daniel and Davis Donald, local father and son contractors, to build her home. She occupied the home that same year. For reasons that are not perfectly clear, Mrs. Hill sold her home in 1905 to Mr. and Mrs. John Kimberly. Mr. Kimberly was a co-founder of the Kimberly Clark Corporation.
The Kimberly’s had some interior remodeling and decoration completed before making the house their permanent residence. They called their new home “Kimberly Crest.” Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Kimberly began to plan for the gardens. The gardens were designed by the Kimberly’s son-in-law, Edwin Bergstrom. Mr. Kimberly’s health was poor; he maintained a low profile in the community and was content to focus on raising his prize chickens and fish. On the contrary, Mrs. Kimberly took an active role in civic and church activities. She supported concerts at the Bowl and started the Kimberly Juniors (KJ’s), an organization for high school-age girls.
In 1920, Mrs. Mary Emma Shirk, the youngest daughter of John and Helen Kimberly’s seven children, moved to Redlands to live with her parents after the untimely death of her husband. Her husband was Elbert Shirk, who had joined the U.S. Navy, suffered an injury in a rescue effort, and subsequently, had lost his life. Mary followed her mother’s example and energetically participated in community affairs. She joined the Redlands Contemporary Club, Redlands Community Hospital and the YWCA.
Mary Shirk’s philanthropies were many, but perhaps her biggest contribution came in 1968 when—with the encouragement from Dr. Edmund Dombrowski and Julian Blakely―she offered her home to the people of Redlands. This action stimulated the effort of Redlands citizens to acquire Prospect Park as a public park. In 1969 with the legal assistance from attorney John Surr, the Kimberly Shirk Foundation was formed. The foundation would be entrusted with the property after Mrs. Shirk’s death.
To implement Mrs. Shirk’s plans, community leaders met to establish the basic foundations for the Kimberly Shirk Foundation. On May 9, 1969, sixteen individuals signed the Associations Articles of Incorporation. Those that signed the document were; Dr. Edmond Dombrowski, Mary Shirk, Waldo Burroughs, James Glaze, Margaret Lynn, Lorelei Richards, Leon Armantrout, Julian Blakely, Caleb Curtis, Jordon Enberg, Marie Miller, Mildred Gruber, Nyna Park, Avice Sewell, John Surr, Frances Willis, Helen Gordon and Augusta Cranmer. In 1969, Dr. Dombrowski was elected as the first President of the Kimberly Shirk Association. Dr. Dombrowski resigned in 1978, and Mrs. Shirk called on Julian Blakely to serve as the new president. Julian served in that capacity until 1997—19 years.
After Mrs. Shirk’s death in 1979, the Kimberly Shirk Association (KSA), formed ten years earlier, set out to follow the purposes for which they had formed: “to acquire and maintain as a museum the Victorian style mansion known as Kimberly Crest.” In February1981, the Association received the title to the property, and two months later the first guests were welcomed by Mrs. Marie Miller, KSA trustee and vice-president. Should you like more in-depth information about Kimberly Crest, I refer you to Steve Spiller’s Fortnightly paper, “Mary Kimberly Shirk – The Reality of Her Vision.” This paper was presented on April 25, 2002.
To support the new public facility a staff was needed. In answer to those needs, two major actions were taken. First, the docents were organized with Mrs. Joyce Crawford and Mrs. Patti Belote playing major roles, assisted by Mr. Frank Moore and Mr. Ben Rabe. Second, in 1982, Mr. Steve Spiller was first employed as a house sitter, and three years later as Executive Director.
During the next eight years, a variety of tasks were accomplished by the KSA Board and a small number of docents. One of the earliest priorities was to create an inventory list and appraise the contents of the house and grounds. Insurance was needed and docent training was organized. Plans were made to convert the home to a house that would be open to the public—no little task! A “Conditional Use Permit” was needed and issues of house rules were drawn up. In 1984, Celeste Knapp was hired as an Executive Secretary, a position she would hold for the next twenty years. A full time gardener was also employed.
With this brief introduction to the first years of Kimberly Crest I will move to the year 1990 which was my first year on the Kimberly Shirk Association Board. That first year for “the new kid on the block” was time spent getting acquainted with board members and with board policies and procedures. The board met in the main hall (living hall) on the first floor of the house. Chairs were set up around the room for the meeting, making the room rather crowded. Lighting was poor and the acoustics were worse. I thought to myself that there should be a better meeting place; however, I assumed there must be a tradition for this meeting arrangement.
I was very impressed with how the board meetings were conducted. With Julian Blakeley as President, Frank Moore as Secretary, and Ben Rabe as Treasurer, the meetings operated like clockwork. Meetings were very businesslike with little frivolity. Though there was no dress code, the men were usually dressed with coats and ties, and the ladies wore dresses. In contrast, present day meetings are more casual and informal. Casual seems to currently be a sign of the times for our society.
In that first year, the Board voted to expand the visiting days from two days to four days a week—Thursday through Sunday. The hours remained the same at 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Larry Burgess, as the ad-hoc committee chair, presented the recommendation to increase the days and hours for the convenience of the general public. A revised “Conditional Use Permit” from the City of Redlands was required, and internal organization would be needed. Two other important events took place in 1990. First, the Kimberly Shirk Docent Auxiliary (KSDA) was organized and met for the first time with Gretchen Lohnes as President. The newly created KSDA was under the umbrella of the KSA but would have its own board, with the docent president as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees. With the new formal organization, Frank Moore submitted his resignation from the docent list. The docents recognized Frank with their first Honorary Membership. In November of 1990 at a public hearing, the City Council named Kimberly Crest a “Redlands Historical Landmark.” Preliminary approval had been given by the Historical and Scenic Preservation Commission.
As the year came to a close, President Blakely asked me to organize and chair an ad-hoc committee to address security issues and present a report to the Board. The ad-hoc committee met twice and submitted their concerns and recommendations in a comprehensive report to the Executive Committee. A variety of interests and approaches were suggested including private security, fencing, lighting, caretakers, and guard dogs. The Executive Committee considered the suggestions and for a first phase decided on the fencing of the eastern boundary of the property. Bee Fencing, located in Yucaipa, was chosen to build the fence. This approach was just the beginning of our attention and action to improve the security system.
In November of 1991, the KJ’s (who had been founded by Mrs. Kimberly), celebrated their 75th anniversary. During the extensive history of the organization, the Kimberly Crest house had served as the site for a number of the KJ’s events and celebrations. An extensive search for the names and addresses of former KJ’s turned out to be a real challenge. The hours spent writing letters and making phone calls proved successful, and the occasion provided an opportunity for former KJ’s to renew old friendships.
The KSA adopted a new committee structure early in 1992. The restructuring was designed by Board member Harold Walker. The purpose of the new organization was to utilize the Board’s talents and interests. Several of the old committees were eliminated and/or consolidated. The Board adopted the new plan comprised of eight committees: Buildings and Equipment, Executive, Finance, Fund Raising and Development, Garden and Grounds, Collections Management, Public Relations/ Weddings, and Social and Special Events.
I was invited to serve on the Building and Equipment Committee (B&E). That first committee was comprised of Board members: Ben Rabe, Dan Hatt, Roland Hodge; volunteers were Dick Burkhart, Russ Dornbush, ex officio member Steve Spiller, and me. The committee’s responsibilities were to oversee the maintenance, preservation, and restoration of all Kimberly Crest structures. Our first action was to do a thorough inspection of the property. Using the data from that inspection, we developed a priorities list. I might add that the committee was overwhelmed with the number of priorities identified that were major problems!
- Leaks in the roof and gutters
- Second floor mezzanine instability
- Restoration needed on the porte-cochere ceiling, front door, and threshold
- Termite inspection needed
- Seismic concerns – foundations
- Study concerning restoration of the Carriage House
- Painting needed on the exterior and the interior.
Our committee elected me to serve as the chair. This honor came not because of my expertise but because I was retired, and they felt I would have more time to give to the committee’s activities. Work on the committee’s priorities moved forward but not nearly as fast as we would have preferred. The bad weather was a factor, but financing was the biggest concern. The other committees began to operate as well. The Garden committee’s first project was the replacement of several concrete urns that had been vandalized over the years. The project work was handled by Dura-Art Stone in Fontana.
The organizational work that Martha Graeber and Lois Barnett did to get the gift shop started in the Carriage House was outstanding. A new “Conditional Use Permit” gave permission to have and to operate the shop. Sheila Malone and Janice Talley graciously volunteered to co-chair the new gift shop committee. Volunteer Russ Dornbush did a good deal of the carpentry work to get the new gift shop established. The shop would be open initially on Thursdays and Sundays from 1p.m. to 4p.m. Items carried in the gift shop were to relate to the history of the house and the City of Redlands. Later on, it was with much sadness we learned of Russ Dornbush’s death. For seven years Russ had volunteered his craftsman skills to many restoration activities. His most visible work was the 224 linear feet of railings and banisters he had repaired and painted. Our committee lost a nice fellow and a valuable worker.
As the year came to a close, the B&E Committee was well-organized and eager to get started on three small projects. First was the painting of the porte-cochere ceiling. Tim Gorman was the painter, and the cost of that job was $750.00. Kramer’s Furniture and Refinishing did the front door at a cost of $650.00. The second project was Mr. Kimberly’s bedroom. There were leaks in the ceiling that needed to be corrected. Gary Heroneme, a local contractor and a new member of our committee, donated his time and materials to correct the ceiling problems. At the same time E.C.Burgeson worked on the tin roof and gutter lining. Mr. Burgeson did much of the work himself. He loved the old house and one day said to me, “The young guys don’t know how to solder these old tin roofs.” The third project was water leaks at the south-east corner of the carriage house. The wood supporting the gutters had dry rot, and committee members replaced the damaged wood to correct the problem.
While the work on the smaller projects continued, some committee members worked on bids and plans for the bigger projects—the seismic retrofit and a new roof. The seismic problem was one of our major concerns, and by searching the files we found some additional information. In November of 1988, a request had been made to Kariotis Associates in Pasadena, to provide structural engineering answers concerning problems at the Kimberly Crest home. Julian Blakely, Fritz Bromberger, and Ben Rabe attended a meeting with a structural engineer who focused specific attention on two concerns: one was the flexibility on the 2nd floor mezzanine at the top of the stairs, and the other was the connection of the first floor diaphragm to the foundation.
Structural Engineer, Nels Roselund had worked out a detailed schematic architectural plan to stiffen the 2nd floor and foundation anchorage. The engineering services had cost $4,000. Blueprints had been received in 1990; however, two years had passed with no further mention. With our committee’s report in 1992, the issue of retrofit resurfaced. In the next year (1993), our building committee recommended two projects hoping to receive the Association’s approval: project one was a seismic retrofit of the house, project two was a combination of a new shingle roof with the painting of the exterior trim while the scaffolding was still in place.
Our committee was extremely pleased when we heard the trustees approved the two projects and the expenditures up to $100,000 for the restorations. That was the good news― followed shortly after by the bad news. Design changes had to be made on the retrofit because of factors unknown at bid time. The first concern was an additional layer of stucco, applied in 1934-35, that significantly increased the structure’s weight. The second item concerned repairs made in the early 1930’s that had disconnected walls from the first floor transferring the load to a new stem wall. The roof project was also to be delayed when we were unable to find the architectural roof plans. Faced with months of possible delay we turned to work on some smaller projects.
While all of this was occurring, the Docent Board had been planning a major fund raising event with the proceeds to be given to the Kimberly Association for preservation activities. Invitations to the “Magical Event” fund raiser were mailed out in June for the event scheduled in October. What a magical evening it was! Pam Aday and Sue Hardy set the tone which was followed by the devoted efforts and support of docents, trustees, and many volunteers. An approximate amount of $38,000 was raised. With approval from the docents, the Building committee requested the Board Association’s approval of a plan to fund four projects presented by the Gala Event Subcommittee. The four projects requested by the docents were as follows:
- Restore the sundial and support column upon which it stood
- Repair the electricity for the main driveway
- Paint the 3rd floor interior
- Repair the ceiling in Mr. Kimberly’s bedroom
With board approval, no time was wasted utilizing the funds raised by the “Magical Gala.” The driveway lights were restored by TBM Electric’s replacement of old conduit and lead-coated wire. Tim Murone, from TBM Electric, was extremely helpful in restoring the original lighting. The Doric column for the sundial was fabricated by Dura Art Stone. Credit for the sundial restoration belonged to Neal and Carol Baker and to Frantz Rettig for recommending Montclair Bronze to do the casting. The new sundial was unveiled on Friday, June 9, 1995, at the original location at the front of the main fish pond.
With the approval from the Executive committee, the discovery investigation on the seismic phase of the foundation began. The original bid had been estimated in the $27,000 range. Because of the structural changes mentioned previously, Engineer Nels Roselund recommended that the stress force design be increased 40%. I spoke to Dick Andrews, a Redlands resident and head of the California Office of Emergency Preparedness, and his opinion was that it would be foolish not to follow the highest specification.
Following all of the fact-finding and planning, the work on the retrofit was started; the first job was the installation of the bracing, struts, and like components. All of the work was located in the basement and crawl spaces under the house. We were very pleased that all of the other operations of Kimberly were not affected—thanks to the planning by Contractor Paul McKelvy. In November the work was half finished, and completion was expected within a few months―which became nine months. Needless to say, there were some unexpected and unique challenges for our structural engineer and our contractor. They actually had to create a separate system to connect and support the house. The foundation had to be built up in order to tie the house to it; four different-sized concrete columns (one about 42”in diameter and over six feet in height) were poured; then the columns were connected with metal components and bolted into the beams. Approximately three truck-loads of concrete were pumped for this project! The seismic retrofit was completed in May 1996. Believe me when I report that the committee heard many complaints about doing the retrofit work before re-roofing and painting! This retrofit work cost over $70,000, but it was money well spent. Our committee was proud and pleased with the job!
We did have some incidents of graffiti, limited to the garden areas and the parking lot. These negative incidents had some positive results. The City of Redlands Mayor Swen Larson, Police Chief Lew Nelson, and Captain James Bueerman were very helpful as we investigated and reevaluated our security system. Two new members, Ed McCormick and Larry Wormser, joined our B&E committee just in time to review a proposal for a new security system. A sub-committee comprised of Captain Jim Bueerman, Redlands Police Department, Ed McCormick, Tom Tetzlaff, of Pacific-Alarm, Steve Spiller, and I submitted a plan for a new electronic fence barrier. The electronic barrier made the alternative of additional fencing of wrought iron or chain link unnecessary. Another positive advantage was a clean and clear view of the grounds. One more addition made to the security system was the installation of lights and cameras.
With our new system, the police could pull up pictures on their screen when the beams at Kimberly were activated. Pacific Alarm provided the software. Redlands Rotary installed the necessary conduit, and TBM Electric and Pacific Alarm worked together on light placement. Redlands Police installed the computer which could handle camera images. Redlands Rotary also donated $1,000 for this state-of-the-art security system. The Kimberly Board was very thankful to all who contributed to this wonderful security system.
At the November 1995 meeting of the State Historic Resources Commission, two applications from Kimberly Crest were considered; the first was an application for the National Register, the second was the application to name Kimberly Crest as a California State Landmark. Dr. Lauren Bricker prepared both applications for approval, and her efforts proved successful. In December Kimberly Crest became State Historical Landmark no.1019. The following year Kimberly Crest was added to the National Register. Our Association was indeed fortunate to have Lauren, with her expertise, as a Board Member.
Two smaller projects were started as the year 1995 came to a close. First, the ceiling in Mr. Kimberly’s room was plastered as was the ceiling in the vanity room. Dennis Anderson got the bid to do both jobs for $975.00. In repairing the leaks, we discovered that the leak in the vanity room was created because there was no flashing at the entrance, and the roof was flat. We learned about a product called Air-thane that required no flashing, because the pitch would be created with the foam product. We used this product to re-roof the kitchen entrance area for $2,400. Planning continued on our other major project, the roof. That plan included a new shingled roof, exterior painting of the wood trim, plus repairs and/or replacement of the gutters. We also had discussed the painting and stabilizing of the cresting on the roof line.
Planning for the centennial of Kimberly Crest in 1997 was well underway. The goal was to have a number of events in the community and on the Kimberly grounds. The centennial focus was the family, and the history of the home—including architecture, furnishings, and the gardens. With the passage of time, enthusiasm regarding our Centennial Celebration continued to grow. Several programs were already in place. Dr. Richard Guy Wilson, a Redlands High School graduate of ’49 and the Chairman of the Department of Architectural History at the University of Virginia, was scheduled to be the guest speaker at Orton Center. The Redlands Horticulture Society had agreed to include Kimberly Crest in their 1997 Garden Tour. Other organizations agreed in advance to join with us in our celebration.
The Board decided this was a good year to recognize the docents by presenting 15-year service pins. The recipients were ladies and gentlemen who had been the first docents to start the tours of this historic house in 1981: Lois Barnett, Peggy Beaver, Patti Belote, Fay Brinkerhoff, Rita Campbell, Anne Canright, Elvie Cox, Alice Crabtree, Martha Graeber, Jackie Hagen, Betty Huffaker, Laura Ide, Linda Messersmith, Jean Mills, Frank and Sidney Moore, Barbara Nance, and Ben Rabe.
The B&E Committee made the budget requests for the 1997 year, although some of the work was already in progress. The retrofit was underway, and the ceiling in Mr. Kimberly’s bedroom had been completed. Due to budget considerations and the uncertainty of the cost for the roof restoration, our committee members continued to work on maintenance jobs on the house. The most common question our committee heard from our KSA Board was, “When are you going to paint the house?” We considered the roof our top priority, but we realized the wood trim needed to be painted as well. The most logical plan was to paint all of the wood trim while the scaffolding was still in place from the roof job. There was lengthy discussion about the need for funding to continue restoration. Ben Rabe went to the Board and recommended that some of the endowment principal be used to prevent deferred maintenance.
Meanwhile, the Kimberly Board, docents, and a number of volunteers were eager to get started on the year-long centennial celebration―so eager that the kickoff event which was the Centennial Wine Preview was held on Thursday, October 17, 1996. Over 200 hundred people sampled two custom labeled wines provided by Creston Vineyards. Thanks to the cooperative support of Gerrard’s Market, the wines were available at the market for the year-long celebration. A number of wonderful volunteers made the evening possible, but credit for much of the successful event belonged to Judy Misbach and Paula Dill.
Actually the “official” start of the celebration was scheduled to be the annual tree lighting on December 6, 1996. However, the tree lighting was pre-empted the day before by Kimberly’s entry in the Redlands Christmas Parade—a first for Kimberly Crest. President Julian Blakely and his wife Trudy rode in the rumble seat of a Ford roadster behind members of the Kimberly Juniors who carried the Kimberly Crest banner. The auspicious beginning of the centennial with these two events set the scene for many activities to follow that had been planned for the year. To name a few:
- Gardening with Corrine Bromberger
- Antiques Appraisal Day with Butterfield & Butterfield conducting the appraisals
- Dedication of Kimberly Crest as a California State Landmark
- Mother and Daughter Garden Party
- Horticulture Society Garden Tour
- Dinner & Lecture with Dr. Richard Guy Wilson
- Star Gazing with Dave Maupin of Redlands
- Elegant Dinners for Eight by Dave Wilson (a docent)
- A Victorian Faire
In 1997, for the first time since 1978, the Kimberly Shirk Association had a new president. At the annual meeting, Ed Losee was elected as president to replace Julian Blakely who had been asked to serve as president by Mrs. Shirk. He had been a charter board member with fourteen people that had founded the Association in 1969. Julian had always been a tireless worker with an excellent understanding of what it took to run Kimberly Crest. Mr. Blakely often said, “It is the docents who run the show here―without them we would be lost.” He was an outstanding ambassador for Kimberly Crest who devoted much energy and time to the preservation of this fine old house.
The B&E Committee decided it would be best, due to tight budget concerns, that the roof project should be divided into phases. The first phase was to be the south-east corner of the house including dormer, sleeping porch, cornice, and shingles. There was considerable discussion about having a general contractor versus a project manager. Then came the delays which were the result of many factors: first was the weather problems attributed to “El Nino,” Architect Dale Bauer was still mapping and reviewing specifications, and Dick Burkhart and Ed Losee were writing job specifications. It was a slow process to get the necessary permits and to identify skilled workmen. We also took into consideration the Kimberly schedule, tours, weddings, etc. The entire project went extremely slowly―at least three months behind schedule. Bob Knudsen’s Company was given the contract for the roofing of the southeast corner.
In September of 1997, Terry Hernstrom was hired out of six applicants for the position of Landscape Maintenance Gardner. Terry’s landscape experience also included writing a monthly garden column for his hometown paper. He wasn’t on the job very long before he was writing a garden column for the Redlands Daily Facts. Terry’s first assignment was to get the gardens ready for an eventual “American Castles” filming.
Work on the south side of the roof began in January 1997. While painting was to be part of the job, at this time it was more important to replace decorative wood features. Crown molding was replaced, new gutters were installed, and the dormer roof was shingled. When the job was completed, the Board of Trustees was so impressed that at the April annual meeting they budgeted funding for the entire roof project! This south side was a great learning experience and proved to be a tremendous help as we moved on to complete the entire roof.
Contractor, Bob Knudsen and his workmen had done such a fine job that there was total agreement to offer him the contract to complete the roof work. The restoration estimate for the roof was $78,000. The scaffolding was erected in January 1998 and work began. Finials were removed, restored, and painted. More crown molding and deteriorated gutters were replaced, and new shingles were applied to the roof. One more bit of information about the shingles that we had learned from the roofing on the southeast side was that they had been hand-dipped for the purpose of matching the original color and providing more thorough fire protection. But the labor it required was impractical, so shingles for the rest of the roof were stained and fire-proofed at the factory in British Columbia. Although the roof scaffolding covered most of the house for three months, the scheduled tours continued. The docents were flexible in adjusting their starting place according to the work in progress.
Using the scaffolding that covered the woodwork above the second floor, the exterior woodwork was painted “Kimberly Yellow.” Since the Redlands city ordinance prevented the use of torches and other heat devises to remove old paint, preparation meant paint had to be removed by scraping and sanding by hand. Needless to say, this was a time consuming effort. Ed Rosaasen was the paint contractor for the exterior painting. When the roof and exterior woodwork painting were completed, everyone agreed that Robert Knudsen’s crew and Rosaasen’s men had done a wonderful job. The transformation was remarkable.
As the roof restoration and the painting neared completion, our committee met with Wayne Donaldson, an Architectural Consultant, to discuss some other specific concerns and his opinions about another part of the roof project. In August the metal cresting on the roof was removed, scraped, and painted by Don Tune and myself. When the work was completed, the cresting was re-installed with additional help from Terry Hernstrom. Due to the pitch of the roof, it was a bit scary replacing the heavy cresting on the roof’s edge. That month we also caulked and painted the 2nd floor decks.
About the same time, Docent Micki Lewis, who had initially brought the program called “American Castles” to our attention, said she had contacted the A&E Network which was interested in selecting Kimberly Crest to be on their program. All of the staff and Board members were very excited to hear that news. The American Castle staff and crew arrived and spent three days filming the house and grounds. The program was titled “Lumber Barons.”The film included our own Larry Burgess, Director of Smiley Library; Steve Spiller, Executive Director of Kimberly; and Mrs. Helen Dudley, a granddaughterof Mr. and Mrs. Kimberly. The A&E crew was most respectful of the house and furnishings. It was a pleasure to see them in action. Since then we use their video to show visitors while they are waiting for the next tour.
The year 1998 had become the “year of the roof” for our Board and our committee. I thanked the various committees and others involved for their dedication to ensuring accurate restoration and preservation on the house. The B&E Committee had experienced some changes in 1998. Ben Rabe “our favorite docent” at Kimberly relinquished his duties, and we welcomed Bill Hardy Sr., Russell Dill, and Don Tune to our committee.
Another project that had come to closure in 1998 was the installation of new draperies for the Pink Parlor. This ended a six year project; six years to do the research needed, to find the designers in textile reproduction, and to figure how we would fund this project. Scalamandre of New York had done the original draperies and offered to replace them with the same color and pattern. Scalamandre was given the order, and we waited while new computer-operated looms were installed, and waited longer for the complicated reproduction process itself. The material was delivered in 1996, and docent Karen Burkhart brought in drapers, Sherri Thompson and Joan Newton to finally complete the work two years later. For the final B&E Committee meeting of 1998, we discussed possible projects for the coming year of 1999.
The action plan that was laid out for 1999 included some maintenance work on the decorative porch railing; the development of plans for a building with a conference room and rest room facilities; repair of the colonnades; and one major project—restoration of the carriage house. The restoration on portions of the porch railings were accomplished by Leverett Jenks ( a close friend) and me. We worked on two post caps including the repair of the molding. We found it was not as easy as it looked, so we called for help. Ken Roff, a talented woodworker, took on the challenge to replace the caps. Jerry Bates, another skilled wood-worker, joined us in making the new molding replacements. At this point we planned to devote the remainder of the year to small jobs, and to continue developing plans for a new restroom building and the carriage house remodel. Lauren Bricker and Judy Misbach were introduced and welcomed as new B&E committee members.
Before we went any further on the project plans, the docents requested we include Mr. Kimberly’s rooms in the house in our plans. Following that request we contracted the work for Mr. Kimberly’s bedroom and for the parlor. The bedroom was painted and new wall covering applied—thanks to the generous support of Carol Baker. For the parlor a question was raised about the color. Decorative arts consultant Will Chandler was hired to examine the paint layers. As a result of his investigation, the color was determined to be the light blue Mrs. Kimberly had selected when they had redecorated in 1906. These two rooms were refurbished by the Docent Auxiliary who had been financially supporting a number of projects since they had been established in 1991. In the following year, the Conservatory was painted by Mr. Rosaasan, and this project was also underwritten by the docents. Over the years the docents’ efforts have proven their great care and love for the house.
In 1999, Erik Katzmaier, landscape architect, finished a master plan of the gardens and grounds― as requested by the Gardens and Grounds Committee. His diverse experience was evident in the document he produced which recognized and emphasized the historical significance of Kimberly Crest. One of Erik’s recommendations was to restore the winding brick path on the west edge of the gardens. Our gardener, Terry Hernstrom, took on that restoration by himself and did a wonderful job. Tours were rerouted until the path was finished.
Early in the year 2000, thanks to the efforts of Congressman Jerry Lewis, Kimberly Crest was awarded a HUD- Special Projects grant of $27,500. Our intentions were to utilize the funds for the carriage house. The HUD grants state that the money must be administered by a government agency; thus in our case, it would be administered by the City of Redlands. Later on we made further improvements to the security system. A new contract was approved with Pacific Alarm. In addition to replacing the modem for the police department’s computer, Pacific also furnished two exterior cameras. Over a ten year period, we spent much time and money on the security system which the board and committee felt was a necessary expenditure.
At mid-year we had a sudden change in our priorities. Our first plan had been to reconstruct the carriage house and follow this with the repair of the pergola, which was a main walkway to the front of the house. One day while pruning vines from the pergola, Terry Hernstrom noticed some of the larger beams had dry rot. Upon further inspection it was determined that the vines, environment, and age had caused irreversible damage to the beams. Because so many of our guests passed under the pergola going up to the house, we considered the pergola’s condition a safety issue With safety in mind, we changed the priority list by moving the pergola to the first project. We notified the KSA Executive Committee that we needed some budget direction before we could move forward. We figured we had $30,000 designated for the carriage house by the Kimberly family, a $21,500 HUD grant, and $28,000 the docents wanted to use for the new rest room building.
While waiting for a decision on the money issue, we continued to research alternative materials for the replacement of the wooden beams. We initially thought the pergola would cost about $30,000, but we soon learned the large redwood beams alone would cost that much! We contacted John Pender Jr., Structural Engineer, about a redwood substitute. We also met with Dean Irwin from Tilden and Coil to get their ideas on the subject. The building committee was still planning do to the carriage house next while Dick Burkhart continued working on the design plans for the rest room building. Initially the Board had approved a new building comprised of a multi-purpose room and visitor rest rooms. This much-needed facility would offer a room for meetings, classes, and a dressing room for brides. The modern rest room facilities would mean we would no longer need to rent “Pat’s Pots” for special events at the house.
With these projects in various stages of development, the B&E returned to financing again, and approached the Finance Committee with a request to finance the pergola first. The docents were not very receptive to the idea of using money they wanted earmarked for the rest room building. Therefore, we asked the Finance Committee for $28,000 from the Endowment―the amount of money approved for the pergola but not included in the 2001 budget. With $28,000 and $30,000 diverted from the carriage house we would be very close to having money for the pergola. In light of the safety risk posed by the deteriorating redwood, the KSA trustees gave the approval for immediate restoration. With their approval we went out for bids. We received three bids of which the Tilden Coil Construction Company came in with the lowest bid of $63,742 (including a no profit fee).
The restoration of the pergola began in 2002 with the removal of the old redwood crossbeams. The B&E team, composed of Terry Hernstrom, Don Tune, Russ Dill and me, carefully dismantled the wooden beams. The original stone pillars were in excellent condition and were left intact. Thanks to the B&E committee, the masterful craftsmanship of the Tilden Coil Company, and generous private gifts, the restoration project was finished ahead of schedule and on budget. It was rewarding to know the structure was now safe. Though it was hard to believe we had spent almost two years just in research for the restoration of the pergola! About half of the final cost had been spent on the high quality “Construction Heart” redwood beams and the corbels.
After serving eleven years as the B&E Committee Chair, I submitted a letter of resignation; however, I did indicate I planned to remain on the committee. I served as acting Chair for a few more months until Lauren Bricker assumed the responsibility. Committee members at this time were Bricker, Dill, Hardy, Heronome, Losee, and Steve Spiller—who had attended as many of our meetings that his schedule would permit from the inception of the B&E committee.
Now that the pergola was completed, the B&E Committee agreed to focus on the exterior of the carriage house, using the priorities outlined in Wayne Donaldson’s “Conditions Assessment Report,” completed in 2001. Even though no money was budgeted for Capital Expense, we were planning to use the money from the HUD Grant to get started on a first phase. Our initial plan for the carriage house had been to do this job as a three phase project. Some portions of the building needed immediate attention, and some of the other work could wait a while longer.
Early that summer in 2000, a notice was sent to all KSA and KSDA members requesting their participation and support for a gala planned for October. For almost a year, a group of talented volunteers led by Alexis Glaze had been organizing a party under the stars. The theme, “An Evening in Provence,” entailed plans to captivate the audience with a French inspired menu, great decorations, a live auction conducted by Martha Green, and strolling musicians. The time and effort were worth it, for the evening was a dynamic success. Alexis and her committee: Dorothy Arthur, Carol Baker, Merilee Bennett, Paula Dill, Dianne Goddard, Jim Hofer, Harry John, Beth Koipien, Linda Messersmith, Kay Olson, Beverly Sanderson, and Ellie Shaleski deserved a huge “Thanks!” for the organized planning, the menu, and the entertainment. The money that was raised would definitely help to fund the three big projects being planned.
In October of 2002, new statuary of “Venus Rising from the Sea,” which was an exact duplicate of the 1906 statuary, was installed. The original statuary had been the focal point in the Kimberly Gardens until Venus was relocated near the south pond. Some years later a eucalyptus branch fell and destroyed Venus. Thanks to the desires of many people and numerous community donors, a replacement statue was made possible. A special recognition belonged to Lorraine Beal Anderson, a KSA Board member and former Kimberly Junior. Lorraine worked with a committee, contacting all of the former KJ’s requesting contributions for the new fountain.
That summer I finished my term on the KSA Board, and I also resigned from the B&E committee due to a serious health issue. It was at the same time that Leonard Anderson, a great-great grandson in the Kimberly family, was selected as the new KSA President. The new president made several changes, but the most significant one was the change to the administrative staff. His plan was to eliminate the position of Executive Director (Steve Spiller’s job) and create two new positions: a new Museum Director; and a Development Director whose responsibility would be to develop and implement short and long-range fund-raising programs. Leonard accepted a new job in Arizona and resigned before his staff reorganization plan was completely implemented. This instigated a national search to locate a professional fundraiser with a good track record, and some experience in historical preservation.
After an eight month search, the KSA Board found and hired Robert L. Hawkins III. Mr. Hawkins’ resume′ showed twenty-four years of experience in various non-profit and historic background experiences, and he had made a good first impression. Within approximately five months, it was obvious Mr. Hawkins was not meeting the challenges of the job, especially the responsibilities of overseeing the daily operations and in making community contacts. After about seven months on the job, Mr. Hawkins submitted his resignation and announced he was moving to the mid-west to assume a new position.
Alexis Glaze was elected KSA President. Alexis and the executive secretary, Celeste Knapp; the gardener, Terry Hernstrom; and our faithful docents continued to operate Kimberly Crest without filling the positions of Executive Director or Museum and Development. Perhaps Leonard Anderson’s plan for a reorganized administrative staff might have worked. However, with the loss of a leader like Steve Spiller and the long delay before his replacement arrived, the plan seemed doomed.
Thanks to the loyal support and hard work of the docents during this transition time, their annual programs of docent training, Plein Air Day, Christmas Open House, and the Easter Party for the kids were carried out. The docents are a special and dedicated group of people who are involved in all facets of the house’s use and care. They do more than conduct tours; in addition they provide collections care, operate the Gift Shop, grow and arrange flowers, and even prepare meals at some of the special events. Whenever new fund raisers have been scheduled, they have always been executed by the docents with success. Such was the program called “Jazz at the Castle” which was held on May 14, 2005. Following a gourmet box dinner and wine, the audience enjoyed an evening of music with guitarist, Richard Smith. It was a fine program and well-carried out by the docents, but it was not a very successful fund raiser.
By this time I had returned to Kimberly Crest—not as a board member but as a docent. I was surprised to hear that the construction of the new building was now scheduled to come before the remodel of the carriage house. Due to her work and study conflicts, Lauren Bricker had resigned as chairman of the B&E Committee. Terry Hernstrom volunteered to serve as the acting chair for the committee.
The Capital Campaign to raise money for a new building, with a meeting room and much needed visitor restrooms, began in 2004. Dick Burkhart, our project architect, had almost completed preliminary drawings, and trees were being removed from the selected building site. Hicks and Hartwick did the survey and developed a topographic map. Meanwhile, the B&E committee carried out routine maintenance work, because no new project money was budgeted for that year. B&E committee member, Dean Hovey, took on a project to restore one of the decorative columns. He created a rubber/plaster mold and formed the new column at his plant in Yucaipa. After the completion of another smaller project—resealing of the gutters at the southeast corner―the ceiling in Mr. Kimberly’s room was repaired and painted. The docents selected new wallpaper for that bedroom and had the wallpaper repaired in Mrs. Shirk’s and Mrs. Paine’s bedrooms. Bill Hardy Sr., a B&E Committee member, passed away that year. Our committee lost a valuable member; Bill had really enjoyed working on projects that involved working with wood.
In 2005, Carol Tendel turned the Docent President’s gavel over to Nola Houle. Thirteen provisional docents completed their training and were ready to conduct tours. It was a sad day in 2005 when we learned that Celeste Knapp, executive secretary for twenty years, announced she was going to retire to spend more time with her family. Celeste and her former boss, Steve Spiller, had been a dynamic duo; their dedication and devoted service to Kimberly Crest had far exceeded anyone’s hopes or expectations. In March of 2005, we bade a fond farewell to Debbie Braig who had begun as a part-time secretary to assist Celeste and eventually had become the Events Coordinator. Our Capital Campaign, which had started in 2004, was still planned, but it had lost momentum in 2005.
In April, Kimberly participated in the City’s “Celebrate Citrus Program” with “A Salute to the Citrus Program at Kimberly Crest.” Citrus displays, house tours, showings of a 1930’s Pure Gold Film, Ballet Forklorico, and jugglers from the Great Y Circus made a fun-filled afternoon. Our program was a part of the program sponsored by the Orange Conservancy and the Historical Museum Association. In May Jennifer Watson was temporarily hired as the Director of Administration, and Kate Klorer the Director of Operations. A new part time position, Wedding Consultant, was shared by Diane Spear and Julie Humphrey.
In that same spring, Alexis Glaze, the out-going KSA President, congratulated the new KSA officers: Dr. Barry Lee was installed as President; Robert Heinze as Vice President; Joyce Dangermond as Secretary; and Peggy Brier as Treasurer. A new search for an Executive Director position was started. I am not sure how or when the titles “Museum Director” and “Development Director” were dropped. After a three-to-four month search, Anita Mendoza, a second generation Redlands native, accepted the position. Anita came with several years of experience to her credit of work in various non-profit organizations.
At their annual June luncheon four docents were honored for twenty years of service. Those honored were Dorothy Arthur, Zoe Bernard, Kay Holericher, and Dona Stewart. For fifteen years of dedicated work, the honorees were Pam Aday, Jean Cejka, and Dorothy Ziilch. The docents’ Annual Fall Fundraiser, “Dinner for Eight,” in the Kimberly Crest dining room was a big success. The evening began with hors d’oeuvres and champagne served on the terrace. Then the guests repaired to the dining room for an elegant dinner and a spectacular dessert. Docents had been asked to sell tickets, and they had put their hearts into fulfilling that request. They knew the profits would be going for the Gift Shop remodel. The evening was a great success and raised enough money to build more cabinets for the gift shop.
The theme for 2006 was “Let’s Boost Our Membership.” The goal was to increase the membership by 50%. Board members and docents were encouraged to promote membership among their friends and Kimberly’s guests, because it would be a worthy endeavor to be involved in the support of Kimberly Crest, and they would contribute to preserving a chapter in Redlands history.
There were some unusual and memorable moments in that year. Thanks to Antimite Pest Control, a large swarm of bees was removed from the attic and walls of Anita’s office. From the large amount of comb honey removed, it was estimated that the bees had been there for some time. It was a shock to learn that the HUD Grant for $24,500 was lost because of failure to initiate action. As the year 2006 came to a close, Anita Mendoza, the Executive Director, resigned to get married and move to the east coast. With Anita’s resignation, the KSA Board moved quickly to hire Terri deVries as the new Executive Director.
In 2006 the Capital Campaign was re-energized by fundraisers that provided additional monies to build our new building ―to be known as the “Garden House.” The three preceding years had been difficult for Kimberly Crest; numerous staffing changes, the beginning of dramatic changes in our economy, and raising maintenance costs all made 2006 an arduous year. The KSA board was still confident that the project would succeed; they believed that when people recognize a need, they tend to rise to the occasion to ensure a project is completed.
Again, it was a slow, quiet time for the B&E committee due to the tight financial situation. Yet, we were encouraged by the new support for the Garden House. As the year got under way, our committee consisted of the new chairman Barry Lee, Russ Dill, Dean Hovey, Terry Hernstrom, Larry Munz, Jack Devries (no relation to Terri deVries), Richard Moersch, and me. Back in 2001, the B&E committee had done a good deal of planning for the new building, therefore, we were able to start where we had left off. In February we were ready to “go out for bids.” By mid-March we had received four bids; Lusardi Construction, Baker Construction, Recal Construction, and Tilden Coil. The bid was awarded to Baker Construction who told us they would be ready to start within three weeks, and they estimated the construction time would be four months. The Docent Auxiliary presented KSA with a check for $25,000 to prove their interest and support for the Garden House. Perhaps more than others associated with the house, the docents knew that a new building with restrooms would be a useful and wonderful addition to Kimberly Crest House and Gardens.
In April Robert Heinze was elected President of the KSA. Robert brought a strong business background and financial experience to the organization. At this time I continued to give tours, however, I resigned from the Docent Board and returned to the KSA Board. The KSA Staff: deVries, Hernstrom, and Blom, came together in 2007 and worked closely in a pleasant atmosphere, and were —by their own admission—a happy and effective team. While I felt the Board would agree with that assessment, over the next two years many staff issues began to surface―issues that were upsetting to the members of the organization.
While construction was underway on the Garden House and our committee was busy working on small details pertaining to the construction, committee member, Dean Hovey, received a wall tile donation, and his company donated the flooring tiles for the restrooms. The committee changed the front porch to a pier-post system, and added wood hand railings for the back deck on the house. Our committee met weekly with the contractor during the construction period of the building. We also worked with Southern California Edison to avoid running a new electrical line for the new building. Without going into details, we were able to move the meter from the basement of Kimberly Crest to the new building, thereby saving some money. Tile and stucco colors were selected. Electrical decisions, alarm, phone, and the internet system were determined. A retaining wall was added, and the American Disabilities Act pathway was designed, thanks to Fred Ford and friends. Kitchenette storage cabinetry was designed and ordered. The approved changes made by the B&E Committee and subsequently approved by the KSA Board—including the labor Edison required ―amounted to $13,837.00. Added to the construction contract amount of $218,823.00, the final cost for the Garden House was $232,660.00. While many people contributed to this program, special- recognition was given to Barry and Janet Lee for their efforts to raise the monies.
The Kimberly Shirk Association signed a lease of agreement with the City of Redlands for the management of the Prospect Park Carriage House. This move enabled us to rent this facility for special events and wedding receptions, and to community groups. Having the Park Carriage House would also give Kimberly an alternative location for weddings in case of inclement weather. Since signing the lease, the KSA and the KSDA have been able to use this facility to their advantage for their special events. Terry Hernstrom rented a small apartment on the east side of the carriage house, thus providing some security for the building.
The B&E group finished the 2007 year with a three-year Maintenance and Construction Plan:
Year One -2008
- Emphasize the need to begin reconstruction on our Carriage House. Ask the Board to consider a three year phase-in plan if money were not available.
- Paint the kitchen and replace the flooring.
- Repair and paint all of the railing and banisters on the main house (224 linear feet).
- Reframe the window in the flower room (termite damage)
- Replace screens on the front doors; also stain/varnish the doors.
Note – these five projects were to be handled by committee members.
Year Two - 2009
- (Hopefully!) Begin reconstruction on the Carriage House.
- Continue work on the railings and banisters.
- Repair and paint the exterior trim and window sills.
Year Three - 2010
- Paint/stain the roof on the main house.
- Repair the stucco on the main house
- Patch or re-surface the driveways. Build a berm to divert water run-off from the Carriage House.
- Obtain engineering for the 2nd floor mezzanine
For the first six months of 2008, the B&E Committee followed our three year Maintenance and Construction Plan. Then we learned that we had over $50,000 available to our committee. We immediately re-focused on Year Two and began the work on the Carriage House. The Carriage House had been built in 1897 and few changes had been made over the years. Attention was first directed toward re-roofing, including the gutter and soffit repairs. Bids for the Carriage House project were mailed out in September, but it was mid-October before we received all of the bids we were seeking. The best bid offered was from Tom Lammers Construction with a price of $74,705.00. Also in September, the building fund had received a boost from the profits on the fund raiser, “Dancing under the Stars,” which was an evening of dining and dancing on the Kimberly terrace. As the building fund grew, we added phase two in the construction contract; phase two was stucco re-surfacing and exterior painting.
Work finally began on Monday, January 12, 2009. Shortly thereafter, we experienced a delay due to the inability to find the right shingles. To satisfy the historical requirement, the new shingles would need to be dipped for color and fireproofing. Cost of up-grades for these shingles was $11,080.00. This brought the total cost for the project to $85,785.00. By July the 113 year-old building looked new. All people involved in the restoration were very proud of the newly-restored look. Every improvement was based on accepted historic preservation standards.
In 2009 Robert Heinze remained as President of the Kimberly Shirk Association, and the new Docent President was Nicki Macioge. The Kimberly Crest Gardens were as beautiful as ever under Terry Hernstrom’s care. Terry was recognized as the guest of honor for the Redlands Horticultural Society’s Annual Flower Show. The “Garden Gala” was set for May 20, 2009, and the “Summer Solstice Walk” would be in June. Since the gardens had been developed and established between 1907 and 1909, the year 2009 was designated as the garden’s centennial year.
Terri deVries had accomplished a good deal in her four years as Executive Director: KSA had increased in membership; there was more tour revenue; and she had created a positive communication with other staff members, docents, and the Kimberly family. Her leadership was also apparent in that we had more exposure with the local papers, a new tour brochure, and a vast improvement in our newsletter The View.
Katherine Blom, our Wedding and Events Coordinator, made efforts to increase the number of weddings booked at Kimberly Crest, and her work was paying dividends. Since her employment in mid - 2007, our wedding bookings had increased more than 50%. Celeste Knapp told me that weddings at Kimberly had begun some years ago when Grace Porch had been the first wedding coordinator. The second coordinator, Laura Bishop, had served in the same capacity for twelve years. In those earlier times, the cost of a wedding was $500.00, but the costs have increased over time. At the finish of their training classes that year, graduating docents were given a special treat—a brunch in the dining room at Kimberly. The luncheon was prepared by the Hospitality Committee; Mary Waldum (chair), Alice Daniels, Jackie Farquhar, Carol Fouch, and Carol Tindel.
With the completion of the Carriage House in May 2009, the B&E committee returned to maintenance work. Barry Lee worked on projects on the first floor level, while other committee members returned to work on the porch railing on the second floor. As the final months of 2009 came to a close, the Board, Docents, and Staff were anticipating the coming annual events: busy tour days, the Christmas tree lighting and house decoration, and the Docent Open House Party―an active time for all.
Dr. Richard Moersch was elected the new KSA President in 2010. He stated that his goal was to ensure the preservation and survival of Kimberly Crest, a civic jewel, for many years to come. Tour prices were increased in 2010 to be more in-line with comparable museums: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors/students, $6 for children, and no charge for children under six years of age. For the first five months of 2010, the B&E committee only scheduled maintenance work, because the financial situation could not support a new project. We lost two committee members Jack Devries, who had a bad back, and Don Marshall, who resigned from the Board and the committee.
The spring of 2010 was a busy time for the KSDA. A “Bridal Fair” was scheduled in the Prospect Park Carriage House to showcase this venue for weddings and other meetings. In April the 6th year of the “Princess at the Castle,” (under the direction of Sue Morse and Barbara Moore) was a tremendous success. The “Round Robin Bridge Tournament” was thoroughly enjoyed by seventy-two ladies. The third annual KSDA Dorothy Arthur Service Award honoree was Nola Houle. This recognition is awarded to a docent who goes above and beyond the duties required of a docent. The docents gave Anne Canright, a sprightly lady who had been Mrs. Shirk’s cook and companion, a surprise tea party for her ninety-eighth birthday. A large number of docents attended the celebration to wish her “Happy Birthday.” Anne’s cake was adorned with a picture of Kimberly Crest and was donated by Martha Green’s bakery and restaurant, The Kneading Room.
Another garden gala, a dinner and dance event titled “Under the Crescent Moon,” was scheduled for September. An excellent dinner prepared by Bon Appetit from the University of Redlands was enjoyed by all in attendance. It was a delightful evening: the weather was perfect; ambience was most appropriate; and the guests enjoyed dancing and listening to a talented Jazz vocalist, Renee Rojanaro. The year 2010 was also the 41st year anniversary of the Kimberly Crest Association.
Basically the year 2010 was a successful year; however, the staff issues mentioned in 2009 had escalated. Efforts to remedy the situation had not been successful. More than one Board member was heard to say some personnel changes were needed. As this year came to a close, the Executive Committee was busy working on a reorganization plan. At the docents’ Annual Meeting in January of 2011, officers were installed. Nicki Macioge was elected president for another year. It was also at this meeting that Hazel Fuller was honored as the recipient of the Dorothy Arthur Service Award. The coming year’s event schedule was presented, forecasting that a busy year was in store for 2011.
In November the Executive Committee asked me to do a survey of Board members, Docents, and Staff to obtain various opinions about how and why the organization had seemed to have lost its way. Over a period of three weeks, I interviewed twenty-two people. The majority of those meetings lasted one hour or more. I presented my findings to Dr. Moersch and the Executive Committee. Though the explanation of the situation was simplistic, it was rather a complex problem. I offered just a few suggestions, since I considered this awkward situation a task for the Executive Committee and ultimately the Board to resolve. I did share two recommendations given to me by Larry Burgess. His sage advice was first to wait until after the holidays, second and more importantly, to have a game plan set and a bridge of transition in place before taking any action.
The Executive Committee was busy evaluating the personnel organizational structure, including the staffing, mission, and committees. At the January Board meeting, a motion for a reorganization plan was presented to the Board; the objectives were to increase productivity, efficiency, and get the group back on track. The motion was discussed, and approved. Included was an agreement to close the house on Mondays. This action was the beginning of operational and financial changes. In February, at the request of the Board, the B&E Committee prioritized future projects. The first two items presented were the same items presented in 2009 which had been carried over into 2010. Number one was to have the house roof cleaned and stained, with all gutters inspected and repaired. Second was to re-stucco the entire house. Additional projects listed an engineering study of the 2nd floor mezzanine, road re-surfacing, and interior repairs in the bedrooms. Capital campaigning for monies to do the work would be necessary, especially for the bigger projects.
A new “Adopt a Room Program” idea was suggested. A room in the house would be selected and all donations received would go for that room. This approach would not replace a major capital campaign which would continue as well. That spring we bid adieu to Dorothy Arthur who was moving out of town to be closer to her family. Dorothy had been a dedicated worker at Kimberly for almost forty years, performing a variety of duties to improve Kimberly Crest. It is obvious why the annual Dorothy Arthur Service Award is given in her name! The past recipients are: Dorothy, who received the first award in 2007; Carol Tindel – 2008; Renata Waldum – 2009; Nola Houle – 2010; and the recipient for 2011, was Hazel Fuller. Dorothy Arthur will be greatly missed and always remembered.
The spring annual events for the year of 2011 again included another highly successful “Princess at the Castle” program; the “Easter Party” for pre-school children; a “Bridge Luncheon”; and the Annual Membership Reception that featured a special presentation by the Kimberly Juniors. And we certainly could not overlook the facts that this year was the Docent Association’s 30 year Anniversary, or that Bill Rogers was welcomed as the new KSA President. Bill became the tenth president of this organization.
In January, 2010, Larry Burgess had written an article for the Daily Facts about Kimberly Crest entitled “Kimberly Crest—the People’s Castle. I would like to elaborate on some thoughts from his article. Larry said, “This kind of house requires an enormous amount of money to maintain it, let alone manage it as a museum.”Terri deVries, the executive director at Kimberly Crest, reported that the average monthly costs in 2009-2010 were $12,166.70. During the past twenty years the B&E committee has spent approximately $600,000 for maintenance and restoration. That alone amounts to $2,500 a month for twenty years. I know future work needed in the next two years will easily amount to $120,000.
I have mentioned how much our committee spent in carrying out their responsibilities but I have not mentioned the other committees. Because the B&E committee has worked closely with the Gardens and Grounds committee, I am aware of some of their expenditures from 1990 to 1999. They spent approximately $40,000 on a few of their major projects:
- Purchased and installed nine urns
- Restored the brick path
- Replaced concrete benches
- Removed trees from the Eucalyptus grove
- Replaced part of the irrigation system
Even without the cost figures from the other committees, one can readily see that taking care of this historic home is an expensive and arduous mission.
There is a misconception that the City of Redlands owns the KSA property, and/or the Kimberly Clark Corporation owns it. We have to continuously announce the fact that the Kimberly Shirk Association is a self-supporting, 501 C3, non-profit organization. All of our support comes from memberships, tours, contributions and fundraising events. The numbers of charitable organizations within our community have grown over the past years, and most of them schedule at least one fund-raiser a year. We at Kimberly Crest are up against formidable competition when it comes to fund-raising in our community. With the economic uncertainty of recent years, Kimberly Crest has not experienced the same success some groups have achieved with their fundraising programs. An example used in Larry’s article was the “Chocolate Fantasy” which grossed a record $92,000. Burgess also mentioned that many of the groups have gone through some tough times and that their very survival is questionable. Times have been hard on the non-profits. We know the feeling that non-profit organizations do have to work a little harder. Redlands Symphony President, Paul Ideker states, “There is no silver bullet for fundraising success.” Ideker also warns that to be successful requires a lot of hard work. An improvement in the economy provides no assurance that it is an indicator of future fundraising success.
Our Board recently approved a revision to our Statement Policy and Practices, reorganized the membership goals and the donor structure, and made changes in job descriptions. We are counting on these changes to correct some of our problems and get us back on a sound track. We need to do a better job of telling our story, and identifying specific needs. A good reason for better story-telling comes to mind; we need to re-stucco the Kimberly Crest house, which was last done in 1934-35!
We are aware that Redlands people are generous in their support of the many charitable organizations in the Inland Empire. With this in mind, I strongly encourage you to offer your support of this beautiful home in our community—and enjoy a tax deduction —made especially pleasant by knowing that you are contributing to our cultural heritage here in Redlands!
There is no doubt, Kimberly Crest is a jewel in our cultural necklace, and we do need to invest in all of our cultural assets. Remember, Mrs. Shirk left her estate to “the people of Redlands.”
“All the majesty of perfect times, all the
luxury of tones and color that plant life
is capable of producing, all the skill of
artist and artisan together with a
magnificent vista and distant mountains
are combined in Kimberly Crest, one of
the most beautiful and attractive home
places in California.”
Kimberly Shirk Association
Dr. Edmund Dombrowski
Dr. A.B. Lee
Dr. Richard Moersch
Kimberly Shirk Docent Auxiliary