Robert H Spurgeon Sr

Left: Robert Spurgeon and his family, wife Lillian, granddaughter Gloria, daughter Grace, and son Robert Spurgeon, Jr. Right: Robert Spurgeon, Jr. designed this Ladera Lane house for his parents, Robert Spurgeon, Sr. and Lillian Spurgeon.

Robert Spurgeon, Sr., was born in Canada and trained as a lawyer. He left Toronto for Chicago in 1886, where he married Lillian Maguire in 1891. They moved to Denver briefly, then returned to Chicago where their daughter, Grace, was born. Spurgeon had a successful legal career and later, in New York City, became the attorney for the U. S. Steel Corporation. Their son, Robert H. Spurgeon, Jr., was born in New York. As a young man, he traveled in Europe and Asia with friends and family and attended Columbia University, where he graduated in 1916 as an architect.

In 1917, 22-year-old Grace responded to a sudden request by her 56-year-old fiancée, wealthy New York banker William A. Lombard, and she and her mother traveled to see him in Riverside, where he was staying at the Mission Inn. He had found a house he loved, and the two were married in San Bernardino, honeymooned briefly at the Inn, and then traveled to Asia.

Unfortunately, Lombard fell ill, purportedly with arthritis, and died on April 11, 1918, less than a year after the marriage. Grace’s parents came to Riverside to stay with her and, after awhile, Robert Junior joined them.

Robert Junior designed many homes in Riverside, including the large home at 4651 Ladera Lane he built for his parents. Thick walls, recessed windows, and a central tower were distinctive features of the home, and inside, a high-domed ceiling, spacious dining room, library, sunroom, and five bedrooms and three baths contributed to the home’s charms. Grace had remarried in 1923, and her new husband, Ralph D. Brooks, left Denver for Riverside. The entire family, including Robert Junior occupied the home. A granddaughter, Gloria, was born to Grace and Ralph, and joined the household.

Eventually, the Brooks moved to Santa Barbara and in January 1925, Robert Spurgeon, Sr., died at home, attended by his wife and son.