House of Three Women
The charming landmark you visit today is a reflection of three visionary women: Cornelia Hill who built the French chateau in 1897, Helen Cheney Kimberly who commissioned the design of its Italian gardens and elegant interiors beginning in 1905 and Mary Kimberly-Shirk whose generosity of spirit “gifted” the estate for the community and guests from all over to enjoy. Mrs. Kimberly’s husband, John Alfred Kimberly, whose name remains a legacy to 19th century industrialism and entrepreneurship in the form of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, is also extremely significant. A man of vision and strength, he was an ardent champion of his wife and youngest daughter’s endeavors both financially and through moral support.
A Gift for All to Share
In 1963 there was a community effort to raise money to match a federal grant to purchase Prospect Park (a 39 acre botanical garden east of and adjacent to Kimberly Crest) for the City of Redlands. To motivate support for this worthwhile project, Mrs. Shirk promised to give her home to the “people of Redlands” if the needed money was raised. The incentive worked. The park was acquired in 1968. The following year the Kimberly-Shirk Association was formed, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing Kimberly Crest.
In 1981 the Kimberly-Shirk Association acquired the home and opened it to the public following the death of Mary Kimberly-Shirk. The site was designated a City of Redlands Historic Landmark in 1989, a California State Landmark in 1995, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.