Visiting the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands
When it comes to presidential memorials California isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind. Sure we have the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda and the Reagan Library in Simi Valley but most other places seem to be located on the east coast. But did you know in the heart of Redlands is a memorial to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln? It was long on my list of places to see and last Saturday I finally visited The Lincoln Memorial Shrine.
Built in 1932 The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is the only such place west of the Mississippi. Dedicated to the study of both Lincoln and the Civil War it was founded by Robert and Alma Watchorn in honor of their son, Emory Ewart, a WWI hero who passed away shortly after his service.
Redlands was the winter home of the Watchorn’s and, as Southern California was becoming increasingly populated, they decided the shrine would be a good resource for the area’s citizens. Over 80 years later it continues to serve the surrounding community.
The cynic in me suspected I would be the only visitor on a recent Saturday but I was happy to find several others exploring the collection. The memorial is filled with several Civil War artifacts and offers a true insight into the American conflict.
In addition there are numerous Lincoln family artifacts including a fascinating life mask of the president.
As an added treat the shrine currently has a special exhibition called Reflections of the Face of Lincoln.
This animatronic show brings to life Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas and Clara Barton for an inspirational history lesson. Admission to the shrine is free but there is a $5 fee for the special presentation. It’s well worth it as the special effects are wonderful and the story told is a fascinating glimpse into American history. Honestly, it puts Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln to shame.
The shrine is filled with several fascinating objects but the building itself is also quite beautiful. Designed by Elmer Grey the exterior features limestone plates inscribed with Lincoln quotes and the interior has a beautiful rotunda.
The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is a true Southern California gem and an admirable tribute to one of our greatest presidents. Located in the lovely town of Redlands it’s well worth visiting and I hope it continues to inspire citizens for many years to come.