March 15, 2007
Leon Armantrout, since his arrival in Redlands in 1960, has designed a great variety of structures and has been a leading proponent of building rehabilitation, structural preservation and conservation.
This paper briefly outlines his younger years through high school and college and then describes his architectural projects in Redlands, California, including: the LA-Z-Boy reclining chair factory; more than a dozen office buildings for Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI); the Redlands United First Methodist Church; the Redlands Medical Center; the Theater in Redlands Prospect Park; the Smiley Heights Drive home of Eunice and David Bolivar; and the Halsey Street residence of Gwen and Mark Michaels.
Restoration projects described include: his own residence on Summit Avenue B; the Mitten Building; the Citi-Bank building; the Brubacher residence; the Edwards Mansion outdoor dining room; Sacred Heart Church; the Mikan restaurant; Santa Fe Station; Peppers Art Gallery; and the Rapid Data Systems building.
Jack Dangermond, founder of ESRI, describes Leon as “a very special person for the City of Redlands. He is dedicated to the task of being a kind of architectural conscience for our town.”
Redlands Architect: Leon Hines Armantrout
By Monte L. Stuck
What shapes a new building today?
Redlands Architect: Leon Hines Armantrout
The answer is unequal amounts of the following:
- What the building owner thinks he wants
- What the owner’s budget allows
- What current technology provides in the way of materials and construction procedures (Note that: asbestos was once a super material—now it is super bad; windows now come dual-paned, triple-paned, low-e, and gas-filled; the phrase “Americans with Disabilities” has changed the dimensions of stairs, toilets, bathroom sizes and the way doors open; steel framing has replaced wood; plastic plumbing has replaced metal; the light fixtures have been replaced by track lights, task lighting and up-lighting). What else shapes a building today?
- The size, gradient and physical features of the site
- What outward design is allowed by the local jurisdiction’s planning department
- What inner design is allowed by the local jurisdiction’s building department
- And finally, what ideas the architect can add to this mix to make it all work.
For indeed, that has always been the three-word goal of every responsible architect: plans that work. In Redlands, California, Leon Armantrout has been “making it work” since he arrived here in 1960. Working sometimes alone, but mostly with architectural associates, Leon has made an indelible mark in Redlands with his:
- Prominent, award-winning downtown church
- An award-winning cafeteria
- A community medical center
- A commercial office complex
- A fire station
- A post office building
- A community center
- A downtown park
- A Montessori school
- A gymnasium
- Modern houses, and
- Classic houses
All part of his extensive work in Redlands.
Leon did not turn to architecture after pursuing other occupations—he has always been an architect. Leon describes his childhood with this statement: “I was born on a farm way out in the nowhere western Kansas on the prairie in a very small house, and we had to pump water with a windmill out of the ground when it didn’t rain or was spasmodic about raining. I was born in 1934, which was kind of the end of the dustbowl. We had usually around 100 Angus cattle and some horses. We were sure isolated out there. Some relatives—grandmother, uncle and aunt would come every week or so and I always looked forward to that.”
Leon’s grandparents on both sides of the family homesteaded in Kansas. He states that he was raised “partly Church of the Brethren and almost Mennonite and almost Methodist.” He graduated in 1952 from the Scott, Kansas, Community High School where he received numerous sports and scholastic awards, was elected president of the student body, and was a member of the National Honor Society.
Leon recalls being encouraged toward architecture by a high school instructor. He relates, “I first thought I wanted to be a naval architect and wrote a letter to ChrisCraft and they responded nicely, but I guess my teacher thought I’d make a better living as a regular architect.” These photos from Leon’s scrapbook are models of boats he built, with the scrapbook caption, “The urge to build began with these small scale-models in which I found great amusement as a boy on the western Kansas prairie.”
Leon excelled at Kansas State where he graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. His college records list him as:
- Chairman, Union Governing Board
- Member Union Planning Committee
- Blue Key, senior men’s honorary
- Delta Phi Delta, art honorary
- Tau Sigma Delta, architecture honorary
- President, Student American Institute of Architects
- Vice-president, Lambda Chi Alpha, social fraternity
- Kansas State Engineering Magazine art editor
- intramurals and
- band (he played the coronet).
- Arnold Air Society, the Air Force ROTC honorary
- Distinguished AFROTC cadet
In his sophomore year he was the first recipient of Kansas State’s Paul Weigel Scholarship for Architecture.
Summers between college years Leon worked at architectural firms. In the summer of 1955, he worked for the firm of Gentry and Voskamp in Kansas City, Missouri. They wrote in a 1956 letter that “The principals of Gentry and Voskamp think so highly of this student that they have extended him a permanent invitation to return to this office upon his graduation.” In the summer of 1956 Leon worked with the firm of Stiles and Robert Clements in Los Angeles.
Leon tells of knowing his future wife, Margie, at Kansas State. “We were on opposite political sides. She was active in more progressive (groups) and I was active in conservative (groups). Would you believe that? We went through four years of college glaring at each other. She was a town girl who lived in Manhattan, Kansas. One Thanksgiving was so blustery in western Kansas that I couldn’t get home. I stayed there and went to the library on campus. Happenstance, that I followed her up the stairs and into the library—into the architectural library. I looked at her and she looked at me. Why don’t you go home? I asked her. ‘I am home,’ she said. I still remember the red and black plaid skirt. I was so taken with her.”
Following graduation from Kansas State, newly commissioned Air Force Second Lieutenant Armantrout took an interim position with the Los Angeles firm of Neutra and Alexander while waiting for his first Air Force assignment. Richard Neutra’s “indoor-outdoor design, placing people in relationship to nature, is credited with influencing several generations of designers the world over.” Neutra’s modernistic approach to architecture brought him international recognition and in 1949 Neutra was on the cover of “Time” magazine.
While at the firm, the major projects Leon worked on were: the U.S. embassy in Karachi, Pakistan; the 15-story Los Angeles County Hall of Records building; a Caracas, Venezuela, commercial center; a 270-unit Capehart housing complex for Mountain Home Air Force Base, Montana; and various elementary school complexes in Los Angeles.
Nearly a year after commissioning, Lieutenant Armantrout was called to his first Air Force assignment: to a civil engineering course at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Following this school, Leon was then assigned as the Installation Officer at a remote Air Force radar site in Alaska. Leon recalls, “I was in charge of all the physical property, which was a mini town. I was overwhelmed with what I had to know: motor pool, power plant, fuel supply tanks, the runway. How on earth was I supposed to know? I fussed and fumed the first eight months. Finally, I learned the NCOs and airman knew what I should know.”
Leon had not departed his initial school assignment at Wright-Patterson without leaving a legacy. He had been chosen to design new facilities at the engineering school. In a letter to Leon—addressed to him in Alaska—the school director wrote, “First of all, your design for the Installations Engineering School has now virtually become a reality.”
Designing “as he passes by” was not new for Leon. By this time he had designed a residence for his mother in western Kansas and a new house for his college fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha. In addition, his summer employment allowed him to work on such projects as: a 1000-bed research hospital in Kansas City; the Harry Truman Memorial Library; the Los Angeles Valley National Bank building; the California Hotel in Fresno; and the L.A. Coliseum Sports Arena.
In 1959 the Air Force relocated Leon from Alaska to the Ballistic Missile Division in Inglewood, California, where he reviewed launch facility designs for Atlas, Titan and Minuteman missiles.
Leon completed his military service in 1959, and relates that, “early in 1960 (the year they were married) Margie and I decided to move to Redlands where her grandfather (Walter A. Pope) lived, and her parents (Frank and Elaine Lemon) had decided to move to Redlands then too. I worked four years with Clare Henry Day at first, then went out on my own.” While working with Clare Day, Leon’s major projects included: the Redlands Clement Junior High School; the Redlands High School gymnasium; and the Lange and Runkel Chevrolet facility.
Leon’s first major project in Redlands “on his own” was the LA-Z-Boy factory on Tennessee Street. Leon describes this first project and how it led to dozens more: “I volunteered for the Chamber of Commerce Zoning and Land Use Committee and as a result got favorably considered for LA-Z-Boy for their new factory in Redlands when they decided to come to the west coast, expanding. So I needed a landscape designer and I learned that Jack Dangermond was about to graduate from Cal Poly in that curriculum, so I asked him to do the landscaping for LA-Z-Boy chair factory and grounds. So out of that first experience I have had the good fortune to do a lot of projects for ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) which Jack and Laura founded in the early 1970s. And I have been working intermittently for them ever since. I don’t know how many dozen buildings.”
I asked Leon how he had initially met Jack. Leon tells this story:
“I went out to Dangermond’s Nursery, interested in tools and plants for our rental house. I picked up this Wilkerson shears from the display. I love these because they are so well designed. Price $13. I thought, “I can’t afford this, but glad to know that there is such a thing.” Jack picked them up off the display and said, ‘It’s yours.’ He knew who I was at that time because I was involved with the Prospect Park bond issue right away. When it came time to landscape LA-Z-Boy, he was just graduated from Cal Poly…and I asked him to do that landscape. I never have any trouble remembering that was how I met Jack, and I still have the shears.”
Jack Dangermond’s version of the shears is essentially the same: “I met Leon for the first time when he came into Dangermond’s Nursery where I was working as a teenager in our family business…I’m not exactly sure why, but I really liked Leon from the start and for some reason just gave him that pair of shears. He still talks about it today as a gesture of boldness, as well. I enjoyed it and it began a long friendship.”
Jack Dangermond subsequently studied landscape architecture at Cal Poly for three years before being asked by Leon to do the full landscape design and implementation at the LA-Z-Boy chair factory. Jack Dangermond describes this project with Leon, and their subsequent projects at ESRI: “(Leon) took architecture very seriously and took me in as a kind of student where he shared his philosophy and design ideas. It is worth noting that this sharing was done in a colleague-to-colleague manner where I felt like he was coaching me with ideas he had learned. This is perhaps one of my greatest learning experiences because he shared the enthusiasm and excitement of what good design really means which gave me insight into his basic philosophy, which is no detail is too small.
Jack Dangermond continues, “After completing Cal Poly, I went on to the University of Minnesota and later to Harvard to study further in both urban planning and landscape architecture. During this time, I remained in contact with Leon and during the winter and summer breaks showed him some of the work that I was doing. He was always encouraging. When I came back to Redlands to start ESRI in computer mapping and GIS efforts, about three years into ESRI, we ran out of space in our small building at 14 North 5th Street. We then began hunting around for a place to buy. At that time, quite by chance, I stopped by a building in Orange County…and asked about the architect of what I considered a very beautiful building. They welcomed me in and told me they were about to sell off the building to be removed from the property. I came back to Redlands and talked about this with Leon, that is, the idea of cutting the building into pieces and moving it back to the appropriate property here in town. He gave me a lot of encouragement and, in fact, thought that he would like to move over and co-locate in the building with me, particularly because it was far too big for us to consider for ESRI alone. Again, working with my brother Alan, the three of us conceived of a move. We found a piece of land at 380 New York Street and moved the building. Leon gave some basic architectural design assistance and after five weeks of reconditioning the building we were ready to move in.
Dangermond notes that, “This started a long and interesting collaboration, including the design and construction of an extension to 380 New York Street, which Leon, Dale Bauer, and Leon’s firm carried out. Later, we found more buildings, moved them to Redlands and occupied them to support ESRI’s growth. At one point, our growth was quite substantial and we literally built a whole new Montessori building (about 5600 sq ft) on the land directly adjacent to the original property that we purchased…Later, with even more growth, Leon designed a new administration building (approximately 10,000 sq ft), later a new software development building (approximately 30,000 sq ft) and then later more expansion across the street on the old telephone company property, initially 70,000 sq ft, then another 30,000 sq ft, then a complete addition of 100,000 sq ft and so on.
“All of these in incremental segments were designed to be architecturally consistent with the original building that we purchased in Orange County. We learned many things together during that evolution of buildings and today there are over 22 structures on the Redlands campus. In some ways, each building became better.” Dangermond says, “During this time, Leon came to know how we developed the software. He developed a common sized footprint for our offices and helped us design furniture which would work within the work cubicles. We took early ideas such as sliding glass door partitions that would enclose offices and extended them again and again, refining them as we went to allow people to have both a private work space but also a glass connection to their work team and the company in total. Other ingredients of the architecture included lots of opportunities to have window space so the connection to the outdoors and outdoor work areas and patios. Finally, we together grew to heavily emphasize the planting (some people say over-planting) of trees—sycamore, eucalyptus, jacarandas, and so on. Employees like this style of design and like the feeling of a campus atmosphere that has resulted.”
Leon’s most notable structure on the ESRI campus is the “glass cafeteria.” “Riverside Press Enterprise” columnist Cassie MacDuff wrote in a 2003 column: “The café’s architecture is a marked departure from the ESRI signature buildings: [as we have seen] rough-sawn, plywood exteriors stained a dark greenish-brown to blend with the eucalyptus and sycamore trees that surround them…The heavy glass, held together by stainless steel brackets and rubber gaskets, provide an open, airy view of the park-like setting…His mission was to create the biggest structure possible without removing the existing trees, Armantrout said. The design worked so well it looks like the trees were planted after the café was built, rather than the other way around. The boulders—left over from construction of the Seven Oaks Dam—also look so natural some people assume they were part of the terrain.”
Leon’s design was one of four winners chosen for the American Institute of Architects’ LA Restaurant Design Awards. Additionally, it earned the People’s Choice Award and the Honor Award from the Institute’s Inland California Chapter in December, 2003, and the All Project Design Award from the LA Chapter in November, 2004.
Jack Dangermond had mentioned Dale Bauer (a member of this Fortnightly Club) working with Leon. When Leon first came to Redlands in 1960, he began working in the office of architect Clare Henry Day. There he met Dale, who later joined the Day office after working for a short time for Robert Van Roekel, a building designer, also of Redlands. Dale and his wife Gene had recently moved to Running Springs from Los Angeles where he had worked in the Eames office for some ten years after graduating from architectural school at USC.
Leon started his own practice in 1964, while Dale continued working in the Day office. In 1967, Dale joined the Armantrout office, and shortly thereafter the firm began working on the new Redlands First United Methodist Church after the original Methodist church was destroyed by fire on June 27, 1967.
Leon describes Dale’s work on the church as follows: “Dale’s most notable contribution was in working out the intricate details of some uniquely challenging requirements; such things as a human-powered lamping bridge which was required to travel across the space-frame ceiling/roof structure to re-arrange the lighting as the arrangements of seating, chancel, and stage elements were changed to suit a wide variety of activities which take place in this multi-purpose space. It is actually as much like a theater as it is a conventional worship space. Construction began in 1970 and was completed the following year. To this day the elements which Dale designed and the intricate details and devices he devised are in constant use and have required minimal maintenance and repair.”
When I asked Leon which of the Redlands projects he is most proud, his immediate reply was, “…the United Methodist Church, because it was an original, honest response to the needs of the owners. In that case…they did not have enough insurance to rebuild it, so they asked us to do a very simple, however multi-purpose, project. And that’s what we did according to the needs expressed by members of the congregation…They indicated their needs to have an excellent acoustic space and mostly with the emphasis on musical acoustics and also a very flexible floor plan, which meant a level floor rather than a sloping floor sanctuary. And they wanted it fireproof. It’s actually a three-level structure. One is classrooms below in a basement with a sunken terrace below Cajon Street, and the main sanctuary level with gathering area and the chapel and then the balcony level where the German-built pipe organ and also the choir sits….It’s my most satisfying Redlands project.”
Leon added, “Their first bid was $520,000. They didn’t have that much money, so we had to simplify…$486,000 built that. Marvelous. Now that would be five million.” Someone told me it was a church in a gym. I realized it was so controversial. Paul Allen told me one day it was ‘a wonderful building, and acoustically great interior, but I would never have chosen that exterior.’ That’s the way most people think about architecture. The only way we are going to turn that around is to teach at age one. Architecture, design, color…all start at age one.”
In her book, “History of the Redlands First United Methodist Church, 1887-1987,” author Rachel Biddick describes the new church construction as follows:
“The double brick walls served as forms for the steel reinforced concrete poured between them. When the walls were completed, the steel space frame was constructed, in three sections, on the sanctuary floor. The three-dimensional space frame, made of many members bolted together, none of them over four feet long, does not flex under stress. Its purpose is to tie the walls together so they cannot fall either inward or outward from earthquake action….When the space frame was completed, a fifty-ton crane with a 120-foot boom lifted the three sections, one at a time, and lowered them into precise position onto the pilasters, which appear at twenty-foot intervals along the inside walls as brick faced pillars. To these pilasters the space frame sections were securely welded.
“Architect Armantrout reported that this was the first use in a church sanctuary of space frame construction, which evolved from the geodesic dome…The total space frame weight is only 30,000 pounds. It was chosen not only for its strength and earthquake resistance, but also for its lightness, its acoustical quality, and because it would be made from standard lengths of structural steel, which are far less expensive than custom-made structural steel…The entire construction, including the chapel, was completed in slightly over a year. Its outside cross arrived from Los Angeles and was permanently mounted in place on March 22, 1971.”
Reverend Herbert “Mike” Fink, who was pastor of the Methodist Church during the building process, said, “It works—what Leon did. He built a little mock-up, a model, and took photos (of it) so you were looking into the sanctuary. They printed that on the (church) bulletin cover. I think it is a prize. It really works.”
Before former Redlands councilman and Mayor Swen F. Larson began his political career, he was a building contractor, and he hired Leon to design the Redlands Medical Center on Terracina Boulevard. The 66,000 sq ft building was integrated into a gently sloping site in order to maintain a grade-level entrance for both the lower and upper levels from the surrounding parking lots. The medical center, while containing a number of diversified medical suites, laboratory and x-ray units, features a dramatic landscaped open atrium located in the center of the building which provides an attractive vista for the surrounding suites.
Although the Methodist Church may be Leon’s most satisfying Redlands project, he also believes that “there’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction from residential projects which meet the owners’ special needs.” One of these early projects was assisting San Bernardino Valley College Art Department Chairman David and Sue Lawrence with the design of a room addition for their Garden Street residence. This addition was featured in a 1976 edition of “Sunset” magazine, and described as follows:
“(The room) is 21 feet by 28 feet that’s large and airy enough for all kinds of activities from impromptu family recitals to large group gatherings. Supporting the 21-foot span are 4 by 16-inch beams vaulting to an 18-foot-high wall—a dramatic change from the conventional 8-foot ceiling of the existing house. The tall wall, covered with diagonally applied tongue-and-groove cedar, gives artist Dave Lawrence the gallery space he wanted…The new room is generously lit by 10 skylights….”
The Lawrences say, “Leon’s a very low-key guy. You never have the feeling you’re being pushed around. He’s very easy to work with. He doesn’t say a whole lot. He spent a lot of time looking and thinking. That is his style. It was a pleasure working with him.”
It is not unusual for clients of Leon’s to praise him highly. Cliff Cabanilla, the founder and artistic director of the Redlands Theatre Festival, hired Leon in 1975 to design the Prospect Park outdoor theater after the city of Redlands had previously hired an Orange County firm to do the design. Cliff states that the Orange County company “came up with a rather horrendous design…it was a concrete monstrosity with arbors for roses and way over budget. We wanted an esthetic structure which would be pleasing even when closed up. Working with Leon was one of the most pleasant of anybody I’ve dealt with. We clicked. He was very comfortable to work with. He is visionary. He would ask questions and when I explained, he understood what was needed. We didn’t disagree. Working with him was one of my most enriching professional experiences. If everyone was like Leon, life would be wonderful.”
Eunice Bolivar and her husband, David, both physicians, hired Leon to design their 5,000 sq ft Redlands home on Smiley Heights Drive.
She describes her house: “Every room has a view of the north and the south. Leon designed the house for winter and summer sun, so that it doesn’t get the summer sun in the windows. He got the sun just right. I did not want any long, narrow hallways with rooms off, but wanted open space. I wanted a house where I don’t have to turn on one light in the daytime.” Eunice states that “He let me have 100 percent of my ideas.” She appreciated Leon asking her, “Listen, can you afford it? He made me look at the practical side. There were no surprises. I knew exactly everything, except for the (design of) the ceilings—all different levels with open beams. He was very patient. If he had been in a rush, I wouldn’t have liked it. We were doctors. I never went shopping before in my life. I didn’t know the price of carpet or bedspread. We went at a leisurely pace.”
A look at just one more residence Leon designed in Redlands on Halsey Street for George Fickerly and his wife, now owned by Mark and Gwen Michaels. The requirements for the house were:
- that the dwelling fit the hilly site
- that it receive lots of light into the structure from all different directions
- that there be a lot of large open interior spaces, and yet privacy in sleeping areas
- and that it also must have surrounding landscape to complement the house and give it privacy from it neighbors.
Designing new structures throughout the years is really not how Leon Armantrout is best known in Redlands. His efforts in building rehabilitation, structural preservation and conservation projects have introduced him to a much larger audience. Dr. Edmund Dombrowski, Leon and Margie led the fight to save Prospect Park from the developers for the citizens of Redlands. A Redlands city commissioner said, “Leon is dedicated to the saving of precious things in Redlands when we don’t have the courage to go out there and do it ourselves.”
In describing his own home on Summit Avenue B, on which he added 600 sq ft of kitchen, dining and living rooms, Leon admitted, “actually, it is more exciting to do that kind of thing (adding on and renovating) than to create a whole new thing. When Margie’s parents passed away we needed a small house, and Margie had her eye on a little bungalow. Avice Meeker Sewall told me it was a chauffeur’s house.”
The March, 1982 issue of “Sunset” magazine continues the story: “Tearing off a corner to add on to this little house in Redlands, California, seemed a crime: beautiful redwood ship-lap siding had been part of the 1924 kit from which it was built. Why tear down the old walls? This Redlands family just wrapped a new wing around them.” Leon’s addition was also featured in the 1982 book “Adding On,” by author Duo Dickinson. Leon says, “We were then expecting our second child. Julie was born in ‘66 and Jeff in ‘73 right after we moved into that house and Jamie was born in 1977.” [Note: In the photo, Julie, on the right, is now a physician; Jeff, a computer consultant; and Jamie, at left, is now manager of the Redlands Mitten Building Events Center].
The Mitten Building, originally a citrus packing house, is one of Leon’s saves from the wrecking ball. Built in 1890, the 20,500 sq ft multi-level brick structure had been the home to a number of owners and uses throughout its long and varied history, including a highly successful letter-making company, whose name the building now officially bears.
Leon states, “Preservation is one of my special interests. What I look for is design integrity of the original building and structural qualities, meaning that it isn’t extremely weak from the standpoint from the threat of the big earthquake…I’ve learned the technique …of seismic retrofit, which has to do a lot with ‘keeping things tied together.’ ”
Describing the Mitten Building, Leon explains, “It is a substantial building and is basically a heavy timber structure with trusses overhead and 40-foot long old growth Douglas Fir in the roof structure…we tied everything together and we also put in all new systems like fire sprinklers, electrical, and plumbing.” The rear portions of the building became an engineering office and The Boiler Room, now a popular after-work meeting place in Redlands. Leon says, “Think of historic preservation and the whole purpose of the Redlands Conservancy: making buildings economically feasible and making money at it.”
The Redlands community is sprinkled with Leon’s rehabilitation and renovation projects. Some of these projects are:
- The renovation of the old “Red Fed” building on State Street (now Citi-Bank) façade, landscaping, upgrading of conference rooms and a complete remodel of the main lobby.
- A tower, bath and bar addition for Jean Fisher, General John Sessum’s daughter, now the Paul and Elaine Brubacher’s residence on Grandview.
- A 33-acre concept development and master plan for the Orange Tree theme park on Orange Tree Lane. The park was planned to contain gift shops, restaurants, hotel and convention center, railroad and water features and a public plaza, in addition to the San Bernardino County Museum. To date, Leon’s firm’s assignment has been to convert the existing rooms on the two lower floors of the relocated Edwards mansion into small dining rooms, add a large greenhouse dining room, full kitchen, and restroom facilities to provide a unique dining facility with a capacity of 160 persons.
- Additions to Redlands Sacred Heart Church on West Olive Avenue. It includes a 10,000 sq ft multi-purpose facility including a large meeting hall, kitchen, classrooms, office, lobby and conference rooms.
- A new front to the Upston Photo Studio on Cajon Street, now Mimi Barre’s International Skin and Body Care shop.
- The Asian-fusion restaurant on Eureka Street, called Mikan (which means orange in Japanese) which had previously been a fish restaurant above and gas station below.
- The Garvey Motors Building of 1922 is no longer occupied with auto dealerships, but now houses the Aesthetic Skin and Laser Medical Center, and B.J. Longo’s Antique Shop.
- The Santa Fe Station, built in 1909, was scheduled for demolition. Leon and four friends bought the property, and now a major part of Redlands’ heritage has been preserved.
- The Gannett Communications Center on the campus of the University of Redlands adjacent to the Greek Theater. This 15,000 sq ft wood-framed structure now contains classrooms, laboratories and the former radio station KUOR.
- The 1990 Peppers Art Gallery addition at the University of Redlands includes a seminar room and faculty offices.
- The Rapid Data Systems Fifth Avenue building is an historic concrete and brick courthouse and jail, converted to a computer-oriented office business.
While I have mentioned none of Leon’s projects outside of Redlands, he has done extensive work in the surrounding communities, including the design of new church buildings in Ontario, Yucaipa, Fontana, Rialto, Santa Clarita and Victorville.
Jack Dangermond of ESRI unknowingly wrote the closing to this paper. In a September, 2006, e-mail to me describing his relationship to Leon, he wrote:
“Leon is a very special person for the City of Redlands. He is dedicated to the task of being a kind of architectural conscience for our town. He is active in the program of street trees, historical beauty, and in the program of advocating intimate urban spaces. Most of all, he has contributed to the standard of good architecture within our town.
“Leon is a special person because he emphasizes the humanness in both his interactions with other people, but also in his design and architecture. In my interactions with him, he’s always looked at the good aspects of people and in working closely with him, brings these characteristics out. On occasion, he has been criticized for being a little too slow and perhaps sometimes seemingly disorganized, and a bit too idealistic. These are, in my view, good characteristics of an architect. They reflect a genuine interest in being an artist, not simply a factory of producing the built environment. His designs are excellent. Leon is extraordinary in the sense that he is always looking to make decisions that are truly valuable for everyone involved—to do the right thing—to not take a shortcut; not compromise integrity and, for this, I am forever thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to work with him over the years.”
1 Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, September, 2006, p. 1
Gentry & Voskamp Architects, Letter to “The Principle (sic) Interviewing Mr. Leon H. Armantrout,” May 17, 1956
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, July 21, 2006, p. 5
Dion Neutra, “TheNeutra Genius: Innovations & Vision,” Modernism magazine, Vol.l, No.3, December, 1998
Colonel C.A. Eckert, Letter to Lieutenant Armantrout, August 20, 1958
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, September 2006, p. 2
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, July 21, 2006, pp. 1-2
10 Jack Dangermond, e-mail, September 3, 2006, p. 1
Cassie MacDuff, “A Feast for the Eyes,” Riverside Press Enterprise, July 22, 2003
Andrea Feathers, “Architect Honored for ESRI Café Design,” Redlands Daily Facts, p. A-1
Leon HG. Armantrout, Paper, “Dale Bauer’s Work at: The Armantrout Office, Day and Armantrout, Armantrout Architects,” June 10, 2000, p. 1
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, September, 2006, p. 2
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, July 21, 2006, p. 4
Rachel Biddick, History of the Redlands First Methodist Church 1887-1987, Citrograph Printing Co, Redlands, California, 1991, p. 88
Reverend Herbert “Mike” Fink, Interview, August 22, 2006, p. 2
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, September, 2006, p. 3
David and Sue Lawrence, Interview, August 18, 2006, p. 2
Cliff Cabanilla, Interview, December 8, 2006, p. 1
Eunice Bolivar, Interview, November 10, 2006, pp. 1-2
Joan Dotson, Interview, January 11, 2007.
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, September, 2006, p. 5
Sunset magazine, March 1982, p. 153
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, July 21, 2006, p. 6
Leon H. Armantrout, Interview, July 21, 2006, p. 6
Jack Dangermond, e-mail, September 6, 2001, p. 3
Monte graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts, majoring in Technical Writing. He then spent the next 26 years in the Air Force, flying as a B-52 Navigator and Bombardier and later as a Weapon Systems Officer in F-4 Phantom jets, with 184 combat missions in Vietnam. He received his master’s degree in Motion Picture Production at the University of Southern California while still in the service, and subsequently held many Air Force management positions in film production, including Squadron Commander of a Photographic Squadron, Director of Joint-Interest Film Procurement for the Department of Defense (at the Pentagon) and Assistant Deputy of Operations for the Department of Defense Audiovisual Agency.
Upon retirement, Monte worked for the Riverside County Department of Building and Safety, first as a building inspector, then as a plans examiner, and finally retiring in 2000 as a Deputy Director of Building and Safety for Riverside County.
Monte is on the Board of the Redlands Boys and Girls Club, where he is Project Officer of the new Clubhouse currently being constructed on the Redlands North Side. He is also Secretary of the Board of Air Force Village West continuing care retirement community of 650 residents in Riverside.