Historical photo of the creekside property. Photo courtesy of the Idyllwild Area Historical Society

The Idyllwild Community Center property and its history

Chris Trout, spokesperson for the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center, will periodically provide us with information and stories about the past, present and future of the site and people. To share your ideas, questions and inquiries, contact [email protected].

Because people are naturally drawn to water and greenery, the banks of Strawberry Creek have a long history of providing settings for communal activity. The developing Idyllwild Community Center is the latest example.

In fact, when Claudius Lee Emerson began to develop the village of Idyllwild after 1917, he created a primitive amphitheater below the site of today’s Strawberry Plaza shopping center. For a quarter-century, this gathering place housed Sunday church services offered by the Idyllwild Inn and other public events. And this is also where David and Lois Butterfield now envision a new amphitheater.

Other developments along the creek appeared in 1923. At Pine Dell, just downstream from the new community center, the Riverside County YWCA opened a girls’ camp, which lasted only three years. But just across the creek from Strawberry Plaza, Harriet Snyder operated her Peak & Pine Camp for girls for 40 summers.

The longest-lasting creekside development, however, enveloped the site of the new community playground. The Loyd Wright family of Hemet bought this land from Emerson shortly before moving to Los Angeles in 1920. They built a lodge in 1924 and for the next half century returned annually to spend summers beside the creek.

The Wrights added other cabins and outbuildings as their children started their own families, and for physical activity there were tennis, badminton and shuffleboard courts, a swimming pool, and on the lower level by the creek, a horse corral. The creekside land offered a guest cabin, too, and quiet spots for contemplating the soothing sounds of flowing water.

The new community center on this same land, with spaces appropriately designed and appointed for contemporary community activities, programs, and cultural events, will extend this tradition, broadening its scope to encompass the entire Idyllwild community.

Next week, Chris Trout, SJMCC spokesperson, and Robert Priefer, a longtime community center advocate and member of the committee, will share thoughts about the people who have recently worked to bring the community center to fruition — hurdles and successes.

Click here to view a preliminary schematic of the future community center facilities. Courtesy of the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center

How the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center is organized

Overseeing the will be the Endowment and Adminstration Committee:
Lois Butterfield
Janice Lyle
Robert Priefer
Bill Sanborn
Dawn Sonnier

The two operating committees under the SJMCC
Building, Fundraising and Capital Improvement
Bill Sanborn
Pete Capparelli
Suzon Capparelli
Diane Cardinalli
Becky Clark
Phil Drell
Jeri Sue Haney
Bill Lowman
Janice Lyle
Marge Muir

Programs and Activities
Dawn Sonnier
Diane Cardinalli
Claudia Posey
Robert Priefer
Jenny Stepien
Rachel Teeguarden
Emily White