Biography of George N. Reynolds
Riverside County, CA Biographies





GEORGE N. REYNOLDS
Long in the hearts of his many friends and associates will live the memory of George N. Reynolds, a pioneer merchant and revered philanthropist of Riverside, who passed away September 21, 1911, and whose life was an example well worthy of emulation. His characteristics of sterling integrity and keen executive ability united with broad and generous sympathies and a deeply religious nature found adequate expression not only in the management of his own wide financial interests, but in countless benevolent enterprises as well. His career was remarkable not only for the wonderful success he achieved from an infinitely small beginning, but for the continued generosity displayed by him even throughout the years in which he laid the foundations of his future vast interests.

Born November 24, 1860, at St. Catharine, Ontario, Canada, Mr. Reynolds was the only son of Robert and Catherine (Nicoll) Reynolds, the father's death occurring when the boy was quite young. Subsequently the mother married William Caldwell and taking charge of her daughters, Isabelle, now deceased, and Margaret Robinson, who now resides in Kingston, Canada, placed her boy in the hands of his uncle, Joseph Nicoll, who conducted a nursery and green house in Cataraque. During his residence with his uncle he attended the country school several winters, completing his education at Cataraque, Ontario, and in 1880 he came to Riverside, Cal., securing employment on a ranch which was later chosen for the site of Chemawa Park. After five years, during which time he had risen to the position of foreman of the Everest rancho, he determined to engage in business with the small capital of $1200, which he had saved from his earnings, and in 1885 established a mercantile store in the room which now forms the south half of the Newberry grocery store. Nine years later, his trade having grown too large for his small quarters, he removed to the Castleman block on the spot where the First National Bank now stands. In 1896 he added to his store the north room now occupied by the Hinde Hardware Company, his stock comprising men's clothes, furnishing goods and shoes. Shortly thereafter, however, having reached the limit of expansion along special lines, he decided to establish a department store, feeling sure that this field offered unlimited opportunities for a man of confidence and training. To that end was erected the building now occupied by Frankenheimer & Lightner. and in which the Reynolds Department Store located October 7, 1896. As new departments were added it, became apparent that more room would be required and the venture appearing to justify his next move he erected in 1900 his present building, consisting of three stories and basement and covering 100x157 feet. In 1903 he purchased the Casa Palma Hotel which he remodeled under the name of the Reynolds Hotel building, his many real estate transactions being directed with a view to the development of Riverside in whose future he ever maintained unswerving faith.

Mr. Reynolds enjoyed the distinction of operating the largest department store in Southern California, with the exception of Los Angeles, and was the largest individual tax payer in Riverside county, having erected a greater number of business blocks than any other person or corporation. Following is a list of business property owned by him, his residence holdings also having been considerable: The Reynolds Hotel Building on Main street; the two story brick block 50x100 feet adjoining; a building between this structure and the Pennsylvania building; one hundred and fifty seven feet of a store building on Ninth street east of Main; one fourth of a block on Ninth and Orange occupied by the Russ Lumber yard; one hundred and seventy five feet of unimproved property on Orange between Ninth and Tenth; and the College building on Main street between Seventh and Eighth, which he built for a store building and later sold. He was also active in the development of Hall Addition, a rapidly growing and desirable section of the city. An enthusiastic believer in civic improvements Mr. Reynolds lent much aid towards establishing and improving roads, schools, parks, in fact, everything that tends to beautify a city and its environs. His donations toward public improvements are a matter of special mention and include the fountain and lily pond presented to White Park in 1909, and Fairmount Park improvements aggregating several thousand dollars.

During the past few years of his life Mr. Reynolds traveled extensively, having made three trips abroad, including a year's tour of the world, his keen observation and appreciative nature rendering his journeys not only pleasant but profitable. On June 1, 1911. owing to ill health, he was forced to relinquish the activities of his life, his son Charles L. relieving him of all responsibility. Mr. Reynolds held active membership in the Riverside Chamber of Commerce from the time of its organization, having served several years on its directorate, also. He was a valued worker in the Business Men's Association of the city and upon his death his fellow members tendered to the bereaved family a beautiful tribute to his memory in the form of a resolution setting forth the incalculable inspiration and encouragement his life has been to them. In truth, the entire city paused in mourning during his funeral services, for he was widely known and loved. A member of Evergreen Lodge No. 259, F. & A. M., and Riverside Lodge No. 643, B. P. O. E., he was affiliated, also, with the Victoria Club. A stanch Republican, he was deeply interested in political developments, though never desirous of office. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, his religious life being that of a consistent Christian whose personal success never for a moment dulled his sympathies for those less fortunate than himself.

Mr. Reynolds was united in marriage November 29, 1888, in Riverside, with Miss Laura T. Low, a daughter of J. D. Low, who, in 1883, brought his family to California from Chicago. With a manliness which has proved a deep solace to his mother, their only son, Charles Low Reynolds, has taken upon his own young shoulders the financial responsibilities of his father, whose noble characteristics he bids fair to exemplify in his own career.

From:
History of Riverside County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by Elmer Wallace Holmes
And other well known writers
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1912


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