In 1891, a railroad depot was established at Palm and Pacific avenues. Of course, that the railroad was coming was no surprise. So, enterprising men began to lay out a townsite to be near the depot. The Town Company was started by a group of investors: A.M. Kensington, L.C. Waite, T.S. Ingham, F.F. Perris, L.F. Scott, A. Bunson and A.P. Maginnis.

In the early 1890s four wood frame buildings were erected on the east side of Palm Avenue.

The first building was occupied by John Linfesty and L.J. Olds. The building was owned by Mrs. H.H. Linville and constructed in 1892 by C.L. Frazer.

A little later, J.M. Martin built a building occupied by L.I. Coy, where he started the Highland Messenger (formerly the Highland Citrus Belt).

Shortly afterward, L.I. Coy had a building constructed between the above two buildings, which once housed the Highland Bakery.

The fourth building was built by R.E. Longmire and was used for a livery and later for a blacksmith shop.

Between midnight and 1 a.m. a fire destroyed all four buildings.

The Sun, April 22, 1916: “It is inevitable that such a fire-trap will sometime go that way… But somehow the removal of these and similar buildings … usually presages better buildings and better construction, and that is what will happen in Highland.”

The fire began in the bakery. The volunteer fire department set to work immediately and a call was placed to San Bernardino fire department. However, the flames were under control when they arrived. Redlands police also responded for crowd control, as “practically every resident of the entire Highland district was present.”

The volunteer “fire boys” laid two lines of hose, one from the corner of Palm and Pacific, and the second from the corner of Palm and Main Street in a valiant effort to contain the fire and keep it from spreading.

The Highland Messenger office, owned at this time by Carl Barkow, was in the path of the flames and appeared it would be destroyed. Equipment was being removed by volunteers, but the plant was saved.

The fire spread so quickly, the business owners had little chance to save much of their stock.

Bill Moran, who lived above the livery, was able to rescue an automobile and the horses.

After the fire and insurance adjustments, new buildings began to rise in May of 1916.

William Roddick purchased from the Linville estate the lots lying between his and the Highland Cash store. He erected a brick building of 52 1/2 feet by 62 feet in depth. It contained two store rooms which were rented to Fred Delawie, John Linfesty and L.J. Olds.

The buildings remain today. They have been modified over the last 100 years, and many new businesses have made use of these buildings.

One of these new owners bringing new life to these historic buildings is Martha Hall of the Belle Bar and The Cut Above of Highland, a hair salon. Good job, Martha!

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