Historic Custom Home

The Hays-Pattee Home

3611 Mount Rubidoux Drive


3611 Mount Rubidoux Dr. is perched at the top of Little Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, California.

In November of 1903, It was discovered that Tom Hays had embezzled over $95,000 from the organization he worked with, the Orange Growers National Bank. He was swiftly arrested, but before his arrest, he spent a portion of what today would be 2.8 Million dollars, on the construction of a home for him and his family, the first home to be built on the slopes of Little Mt. Rubidoux. Like years past, this neighborhood was one of the most prestigious and sought-after neighborhoods in the City of Riverside. Tom and his family never lived in the home, and the scandal that rocked the City of Riverside was all the rage in the social circles for years to come.

Today, the majestic Hays-Pattee house is for sale with The Ransom-McKenzie Team at Coldwell Banker Realty.

Comfortably nestled into the Little Mount Rubidoux hills close to the heart of Riverside with a wonderful view of both the sprawling city of Riverside and the Nature found within the Santa Ana riverbed, this home is still an attention grabber. The scandalous history of the home’s original owner has faded but is not forgotten. Tom Hays was a tall, handsome young man who impressed everyone with his graciousness and friendly manner. He and his family moved to Riverside in 1890. At that time he had little money in his pockets and no name for himself. Over the next 13 years, he managed to move from a small bookkeeping job at the city’s only bank, to become the manager of the city’s biggest bank, owner of important real estate and oil property, and the political boss of Riverside’s Republican party. He was a mover and a shaker in town and no one questioned how he had the means to live his lavish lifestyle on his $200 a month bank salary.

Tom Hays’ Chamber of Commerce photo circa 1903

It would seem that Tom’s move to Riverside happened at just the right time. The citrus industry was just beginning to grow, as was the city. This provided the perfect atmosphere for an industrious and charismatic Tom Hays to move up the ranks of the social ladder of Riverside. Over the years he was a leader with the Riverside County Republican Party, was president of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, Lead the first Elks Club in Riverside, and was known for his singing and musical talent. 

Tom’s real estate transactions included 24 acres purchased in the spring of 1902 which was soon graded for grand homes sitting on large lots. As a prominent player in Riverside’s politics, Hays played a major role in the planning of Riverside’s new county courthouse and the first library in town. As a result, he became well acquainted with architects Burnham and Bleisner. It was no surprise when Hays announced his intention to build a house at the top of Little Mount Rubidoux in the local paper in August of 1903, that the architect of choice was Franklin Burnham.  Burnham designed a bungalow that would conform to the rocky hillside of the site. The foundations, wide verandas, and fireplace all featured blue and white marble stone from a local quarry. Just as Tom and his family were preparing to move into the home, the local paper announced Tom had resigned as cashier of the bank. 

On November 16, 1903, it was discovered that Tom had been skimming money from the Salt Lake Railway with crooked land deals. Then, four months later the discovery of the nearly $100,000 embezzlement from the Orange Growers National Bank became public through a surprise audit of the bank’s records, Tom was arrested for the crime. 

Ultimately, the Citizens Bank absorbed the defunct Orange Growers National Bank and few depositors lost their deposits. But what of the magnificent home on the hill? The Hays home, which had completed construction in November of 1904 at a cost of $8,000, was acquired by the bank while Tom was in jail. The bank sold the home to W.P. Lett who was on the board of directors of the defunct bank. In 1908, Lett’s daughter, Lela, and her husband Harry Pattee moved into the home and the home would stay in the Pattee family until Lela’s death in 1968.

Because Tom Hays was so socially prominent when he went about building the house, it is quite welcoming to guests and was designed to entertain.  The front door features an original Stickley screen door, a precursor to the feelings of warmth and style Hays likely originally desired the home to have. This “openness” in the center of the house extends from the front of the home well into the back and shows off the natural hardwood floors. In the living room, the stone and clinker brick fireplace is a focal point and the natural hardwood floors, custom wainscoting, continuous plate rails, and iconic egg and dart molding throughout the living space transports you back to a bygone era. The “music” room off of the living room has original wall sconces and ceiling light fixtures, as well as a view looking towards downtown Riverside. The formal dining room has a custom built-in china cabinet and views facing the Santa Ana River and Mount Baldy. The kitchen, which was redesigned when the home was featured as a Riverside Art Alliance “Designer” home, has updated cabinetry, custom tile, and a built-in refrigerator.  The large circular bedroom downstairs that was probably the original master bedroom is currently being used as an office. 

The second floor was added after the birth of the Patee’s family’s son, William,  in 1912 as they needed more space for their growing family. Designed by architect Garrett Van Pelt of Pasadena, this portion of the home blends seamlessly with the original structure and includes antique roof tiles imported from Italy. Today, this floor features leaded glass windows which are in all of the upstairs rooms, and offer views from both sides of the home. A spacious primary bedroom runs the entire width of the home front to back. It also has a ductless mini HVAC unit, which can be expanded to the entire second floor. The walk-in closet of the main second story bedroom is amazing in its sheer size! There are two additional bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs as well.

The grounds of the home conform to the mountainside with boulders, fountains, grassy knolls, and trees melding together to create a private retreat in the heart of the city. Sitting on the veranda you can hear the water features of the front landscape and relax while enjoying the view of the stately palm trees which lead up the long driveway with the city of Riverside in the background.  The back side of the home has a second driveway off of Ladera Lane and a large parking area that could be used for RV storage. You’ll love living in the heart of Riverside’s Downtown Historic neighborhood. Being close to entertainment, shopping, transportation, and Universities is a plus. 

Give The Ransom-McKenzie Team a call today if you are interested in this home, or if you’re interested in finding a new place to live in Riverside. For more details regarding this home online, view 3611 Mount Rubidoux Drive on our website.

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