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Category: Before Our Time

Before our time: Libraries in Idyllwild: past and present …

Like a growing number of Hill residents, I’ve been spending more time lately at our public library. Its move to Strawberry Plaza in 2012 was truly a return to its roots at the heart of the community. In 1920, Claudius Lee Emerson made a library an integral part of his plan to develop a family-friendly […]

Before our time: From Fern Valley Gardens to The Epicurian and now the sound of music …

One aspect of Idyllwild that helps maintain its small-village charm is the way commercial and residential activities get intermingled through both space and time. Upper North Circle Drive offers a good example. Just across the street from ever-busy Café Aroma, stands dense forest surrounding two obviously old buildings. As Idyllwild’s first construction boom gained momentum […]

Before Our Time: Newspapers a historic and a history source …

As my late-blooming interest in local history has deepened, I’ve become increasingly impressed with the value of old newspapers. They preserve a contemporary record of people and activities in a locale, and regardless of accuracy or bias they balance our often faulty human memories. They’re also an irreplaceable resource for constructing timelines, and timing is […]

Before our time: J.M.V. Pathfinders to Idyllwild Pines …

From time to time in this column, I share anecdotes illustrating the adage that in order to be preserved, history must first be reconstructed. During my 17 years pursuing historical reconstruction as a post-retirement hobby, I’ve been particularly struck by how often sheer luck figures into the process. A rich example is the emerging story […]

Before our time: Lawler Lodge …

Lawler Lodge, on Highway 243 in Dark Canyon, is one of the more obscure landmarks in our mountains. Its namesake, however, was anything but obscure in his day. Oscar Lawler grew up in one of Southern California’s innumerable Iowa immigrant families. Lured by the great land boom of the 1880s, they arrived in 1888 just […]

Before Our Time: By Robert B. Smith

With Avery Field’s photography, others saw Idyllwild … Picture postcards are an ever-popular item in scenic areas such as Idyllwild. We certainly have had our share of commercial photographers, and the most talented was Avery Edwin Field. A family history just published by his grandson, Sidney Edwin Field, brings Avery’s life (1883-1955) and career into […]

Before Our Time: Before Kwikset came

You can’t commute from Fern Valley or walk about town these mild summer mornings for very long without noticing the seemingly abandoned scatter of old buildings across from St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church at South Circle and Tahquitz drives. Only the Kwikset Lock logo on the largest structure reflects their function for the past 60 years […]

Before our time: Another Mountain Center Fire — 1943 …

The fire erupted unseen in dried-out brush, and wind drove it through Mountain Center before the first fire crew arrived. As flames raced down the mountainside after quickly consuming nearly two dozen cabins, a smoke plume rose that was visible all over Southern California. Highway 74 was shut down. When the wind died down, stopping […]

Before our time: An Idyllwild institution — the Chamber of Commerce …

An Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce with 700 members? Dream on! And yet….. Our Chamber’s recent demise piqued my curiosity about its origin. I found evidence that it existed as early as 1931, when Idyllwild was beginning to outgrow its identity as more or less a “company town,” benevolently directed by C. L. Emerson’s Idyllwild Inc., […]

Before Our Time: Idyllwild School …

Before Our Time: Idyllwild School …

Most of us with careers in education know the sense of relief that comes with the end of a school year. I suspect that never was this sense more palpable than at Idyllwild School in 1949, when pupils and teachers bade farewell to their old schoolhouse. From a student body of two to three dozen […]

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