The Mitten Building
Redlands is a city that has always had its own, unique character, which derives in part from its distinctive buildings: one of the best-preserved collections of late 19thand early 20th-century architecture in all of Southern California.
So, a building has to be pretty special to stand out here. And stand out is exactly what the Mitten Building does.
Built in 1890, the brick structure not only has a fine looking exterior, it impresses on the inside as well. With its exposed rafters, beams and joists, and its stairs and banisters flying up and down each floor, the interior is a tumult of wood, an almost giddy exposition of the carpenter’s art. It’s the kind of place people love, because they’re endlessly fascinated by all its nooks, angles and wondrous lines.
And it’s perfect for brides who prefer a venue with character and history. The current owners have lovingly restored the Mitten, wisely retaining the things that give the building its wonderful patina of age: the weathered beams, the heavy freight door that opens along an overhead metal track, and the original swaths of paint on some surfaces. They cleaned but did not alter the Mitten’s sturdy brick walls, knowing how crucial they are to the building’s feel. The bricks vary in color from gray, dusty pink and fiery red to nearly maroon, while their textures range from babysmooth to worn and rough. If a building can have the equivalent of a beautifully aged human face, these walls are that.
The multilevel interior invites people to move around, explore and mingle. Typically, the downstairs is set up as a reception area. Wrought-iron chandeliers descend from the Mitten’s 50-foot ceiling, and garlands entwined with twinkle lights run along every rail and banister, sparking a festive air. Big windows set into the thick north brick wall admit a mellow northern light—the kind artists adore because of the way it complements everything it falls on. The mezzanine above has a beautiful narrow-slat maple floor, and its slender iron support beams are each flanked by two shiny brass lamps. Couples often wed on the upper level, head downstairs for their reception, then come right back up to dance away the evening.
The recently refurbished basement level is now a bar featuring turn-of-the-century dark wood cabinetry with inlaid detailing. Reminiscent of a speakeasy, it fits right in with the 1890s period when the building was constructed. On request, this space also serves as a groom’s pre-ceremony getaway.
The Mitten Building’s newest addition is the Summerbell Ballroom, which has a decidedly modern feel. Colored LED uplights transform the walls and pinpoint lights overhead showcase each table’s centerpiece. There’s also a granite-topped bar, a dance floor, and a lounge section with leather couch and bar tables. An adjoining patio, overlooking a lushly landscaped garden, lends itself well to outdoor ceremonies.
Since its restoration the building has become a favorite among locals (and out-of-towners in the know). Everyone who celebrates here owes a debt of gratitude to the visionaries who looked at this building with affectionate eyes, saw its magnificent possibilities, and brought it to life as a splendid event site.