When we first moved to Redlands, I noticed a few remarkable places hard to miss. I am excited to start sharing pictures and impressions of these places in a new category on the blog called, “Redlands Sights.”
For instance, the beautiful historic train station in downtown. Every time I look, someone is taking pictures among its pillars and no-longer-running train tracks. Only several blocks away, just passed the historic post office, stands the A.K. Smiley Public Library.
The library is stunning. The building was designed with such detail and style, taking pictures of it is a joy. There is something special about visiting a library nearly as old as the city it is in. Much like the books inside, the styled exterior tells stories of the past.
The library is of Moorish design, which is similar to mission-style but has its own distinct history and characteristics. The most famous example of Moorish architecture is the Grand Mosque of Cordoba in Spain. Though the library is stunning, it pales in comparison to the intense detail and endless arches of the mosque. The Moorish style of art and architecture was born in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula during the 11th century. Some of its distinct features include a variety of arches, intricate calligraphy, vegetative design, and decorative tile work.
Thanks to Albert Smiley’s efforts, the Redlands public library opened in 1894. Keep in mind, this was in the early days. Redlands become incorporated in 1888. This beautiful structure was built for the library in 1898 by T.R. Griffith. Albert Smiley donated all the funds necessary to create the building and the park surrounding it. Wings were added through the years. Enter Albert Smiley’s younger brother, Daniel. He decided to donate a large sum to expand the space. Later, another donor, Eldridge L. Lyon continued the philanthropy of the Smiley brothers and added two more wings.
It is a California State Landmark and in the Register of Historic Places. The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Shrine museum is located just behind the library. The park surrounding the library and museum is named the Smiley Park. There is a beautiful garden before the front doors of the library blooming with lavender and, the Smiley brothers’ favorite flower, pansies.
When I was little, one of my teenage sisters volunteered in a Los Angeles public library. Within a couple of years she turned it into her first job. I loved visiting her at work. I enjoyed running to the children’s area to choose any book I felt like reading and sitting down at a table my size. I’m always reminded of those special moments when I walk into the peaceful atmosphere of a library. I especially remember my sister working there for many more years. She lives far away now, but when I’m in a library, I’m always reminded of her poignant advice and caring nature.
National Geographic. http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/media/moorish-art/?ar_a=1
The A.K. Smiley Library. http://www.akspl.org/about-akspl/the-smiley-brothers/
The City of Redlands. http://www.cityofredlands.org/tourism