By Amanda Frye
Nestled in the valley among the green hills along the east bound 10 Freeway uphill grade between Redlands and Yucaipa is the site of the now razed and pulverized Crystal Springs Ranch. Last Sunday afternoon, the Redlands Crystal Springs ranch’s historic structures were destroyed in a mass unpermitted demolition. What had stood for over 125 years was suddenly destroyed and lay strewn on the grounds as matchstick piles of woods and debris. The destruction that has shocked the historic community took only several hours, in the course destroying over a century’s worth of early Redlands history. These irreplaceable historic structures included a stagecoach stop and ticket booth, built between 1850 and 1870 for the first stagecoach road that ran between Redlands and Yucaipa, the historic water bottling shed for Crystal Springs water dating from the 1930s that was built by George Heron, who was one of Redlands’ “Chicago Colony” and the original homestead house built circa 1850-1870. Another Victorian house moved onto the property in 1980 which was not part of the original buildings was also brought down.
According to Redlands spokesperson Carl Baker “The demolition that occurred over the weekend at the Crystal Springs property was done without a permit. City code enforcement has begun an investigation into the action.”
Many horrified local Redlands citizens who understood the historical value and significance of the Crystal Springs Ranch learned about the Crystal Springs demolition from a video posted on Facebook’s Redlands Buzz Sunday night. The videographer stated that the property owner had hired the man from San Diego to do the unpermitted demolition. Based on sources that spoke to the demolition contractor, the demolition man claimed the city issued a permit to the owner in San Diego. It was also said that the demolition man claimed that city staff came by and took pictures of the demolition in progress.
The Serrano Indians originally inhabited Crystal Springs which had springs and gold/silver mines. The Mousley Museum and the San Bernardino County Museum house some of the Native American artifacts found at the Crystal Springs property. In March 1842, The Crystal Springs property was part of the Antonio Maria Lugo land grant from the Mexican Governor Alvarado. Diego Sepulveda, a cousin to the Lugo family by marriage, ran cattle in the area. Redlands’ Mr. Frank E. Brown and Mrs. Jessie S Brown originally bought the Crystal Springs property, envisioning piping spring water to Redlands Prospect Hotel around Highland Avenue and Cajon Steet. According to archived records, Samuel Colgate, the creator of Colgate toothpaste, had been working on deals to channel and pipe Crystal Springs water, as well.
George Heron, a former member of the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, moved to Chicago, where he became interested in the Redlands Chicago Colony lot sale and purchased four lots in Redlands. Thus, Mr. Heron moved to Redlands in 1887 and made a homestead claim on the 160 acre Crystal Springs property formerly owned by F.E. Brown. The Los Angeles Land office filings show the land patented April 10, 1895. Mr. Heron started the first bottled water business peddling Crystal Springs water to area residents including Kimberly Crest Mansion. The Crystal Springs water was sold until 1987.
On June 28, 1979, articles of incorporation were filed with the State of California by George Heron’s daughter Lola Heron as founder, Daniel Judy as the president, Michael Sanchez as vice president and Herbert-Price Judy as secretary/ treasurer to form the nonprofit Blessed Hope Foundation. The Blessed Hope Foundation was formed to “operate and maintain fellowship…. Welfare of man in the Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth…” Under subdivision (b) it was further stated, “The specific and primary purposes are also to disseminate information concerning historic events and places,… Crystal Springs Ranch, a historic site in Redlands, California; to procure and preserve historic relics and places,….manage historic buildings .. to collect and preserve articles, specimens and material things illustrative or demonstrative of the customs, modes and habits of the early history of California…” Section VII states “The property of this corporation is irrevocably dedicated to charitable purposes and no part of the net income or assets of this organization shall ever inure to the benefit of … any private persons. Section VIII further states that any action taken be taken with unanimous written consent by the board of directors… such statement shall be prima facie evidence of such authority.”
People that knew Daniel Judy describe how he turned terminally ill in 2002. As he lay dying, on December 18, 2002 , Daniel Judy signed, on behalf of “Blessed Hope Foundation, Inc.” with no written statements from the board of directors as required, over all parcels of Crystal Springs to “Deborah Harmon, an unmarried woman.”
On November 29, 2004, Deborah V. Harmon granted Crystal Springs Property to her own trust Deborah V. Harmon trust. In 2008, documents indicate that there was a $2,007,534.31 unpaid debt from Ms. Harmon to Woody, LLC (60%) and J.A.W. Land and Trading, LLC (40%) so several months later FCI Lender Services, Inc was used to foreclose on Ms. Harmon to collect the debt and take the Crystal Springs Property used as collateral. The property was sold at public auction on December 29, 2009 for $125,000 to Joseph Fallon. In 2010, Joseph Fallon and JAW Land and Trading Company tried to develop the property. Resident Pamela Smyth, knowing the history of Crystal Springs, Blessed Hope Foundation and the Herons, filed local historic and scenic designation papers March, 31 2011 with the help of the Citizens of Redlands for Redlands. There was a large community education program. The Redlands Historic and Scenic Commission approved the historic designation for Crystal Springs, but the Redlands City council denied the designation with Paul Foster voting against the designation. On April 11, 2016, the Redlands city council approved the Redlands Historic Context Statement resolution 7782, which listed Crystal Springs multiple times as a historic resource. The resolution states “the United States Department of the Interior certified the City of Redlands as a ‘Certified Local Government (CLG), a member of a partnership between Local, State, and Federal governments through an initiative of the National Park Service developed to assist local municipalities in protecting their historic resources…”
The current owner of the property is Joseph Fallon, a San Diego dentist, who owns the company under Woody, LLC with an agreement with JAW land and trading LLC registered to James J. Williams of Rancho Santa Fe, who in March 2018 changed the name to J.A.W. Capital Management, LLC. Dr. Fallon acquired the Crystal Springs property under dubious means. The Blessed Hope Foundation is listed as an active Corporation at the Crystal Springs site with Deborah Harmon the agent for service.
The current owner, Dr. Joseph Fallon, rented the property for years, then allowed the property to be taken over by vagrants and filled the area with trash which was visible from the freeway.
The Sentinel has requested more information regarding the demolition of the historic structures at Crystal Springs and future developments.
By Amanda Frye