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From the Introduction to Pearl Chase: First Lady of Santa Barbara

From the View Vault: Originally published for Pearl Chase’s 125th Birthday in 2013

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150In 1888 the following events happened: the establishment of Hotel del Coronado; the writing of “Casey at the Bat”; the founding of the City of San Pedro; the creation of the National Geographic Society; the development of the first photos on Kodak film—and most importantly for the City of Santa Barbara, the birth of Pearl Chase.

Saint Barbara gave her name to the City of Santa Barbara, but the woman who shaped this city was Miss Pearl Chase.

College-CutiePearl Chase was the city’s most influential woman of the 20th century. With her interests in public health and education; the arts and architecture; urban planning and environmental integrity, she was a true Renaissance woman who blazed her own unique trail, and compelled others to follow in her footsteps.

She commanded attention wherever she went. She learned early how to make friends and influence people. She demanded action from individuals. She expected excellence in civic involvement. She fearlessly led without aspirations for elective office. She relied on righteous indignation as a political tool.

“Government officials are really temporary—they come and go—and this constant turnover means that many citizen organizations have far greater continuity and relative importance in community affairs,” she explained. “Don’t assume leadership will come from the professions: you often won’t find it there. If you’re to succeed, you must be led by citizens and citizen groups, with the interest and support of key public agencies.”

When I moved to Santa Barbara in 1989, the first historic figure I heard about was Pearl Chase. I was fascinated by stories of her leadership in setting high standards for this community in every level of civic involvement. I came to admire her fearlessness in speaking truth to power throughout her long and extraordinary life.

And, when I was moved to action as a citizen interested in historic preservation and alarmed about overdevelopment, I was inspired by her belief in citizen oversight of governmental action, and her determination to make Santa Barbara a better place for visitors and residents alike.

platebook2Thanks to her example, I learned to find my voice as a journalist and a community activist in standing up and speaking out. I have long focused on a variety of quality-of-life issues that Miss Chase believed in and worked so hard to address.

In recent years, Santa Barbara has seen relentless moves to undermine, un-do and discredit the accomplishments of Miss Chase and those who worked with her to create this special place admired the world over.

Some claim that the grace, style and dignity she brought to this town are passé. Others insist that buildings should be taller, the population denser, and that there’s something elitist about heeding the past while planning for the future.

But here are still some residents who have learned from her example, who spend their time, treasure and talent to continue to make Santa Barbara a special place to live, work and play—and serve the greater good.

Pearl Chase relentlessly communicated her message using the tools of her time: personal contact, the telephone and the mail service. If she were with us today, it’s easy to imagine her blogging away, uploading videos to YouTube, posting comments on Facebook and using her own Twitter account to get the word out about current issues and events. As she noted at the age of 80: “My job is still the same. Get the message across. And make politicians and others feel they must pay attention to the people.”

signaturePart visionary, part pragmatic community organizer, Pearl Chase associated with presidents and politicians; philanthropists and forward thinkers; influential friends close to home and across the nation. She enlisted their help to make this special community a better place.

In her time, she succeeded.

The city of Santa Barbara is sometimes called a jewel, a gem, a treasure; few visitors or even residents realize how many facets of this beautiful place—so highly prized and richly valued—can be traced back to a woman named Pearl.

November 16th, Pearl Chase’s birthday, ought to be celebrated as Pearl Chase Day in Santa Barbara, the city that owes her so much. So much of the natural and architectural beauty we see around our community is directly attributable to the influence and vision of Pearl Chase.

Today, 125 years after her birth, it’s time to remember what she did. And learn how she got it done.

–From the Introduction to Pearl Chase: First Lady of Santa Barbara, Olympus Press, 2013

Our Life with Pearl Chase

One of the great Pearl Chase stories was published by Santa Barbara View in November 2010 and it is worth sharing again, with all the comments from over the years! Provided by Cheri Rae who has authored a must-have book, Miss Pearl Chase: First Lady of Santa Barbara.

Memories shared by Penny and Terry Davies, who owned the Earthling Bookshop and worked with Pearl Chase to defeat the El Mirasol condominium project.

In 1966 our family arrived in Santa Barbara and quickly we fell in love with the jewel on the Pacific. The first house we lived in was in a tract in Goleta. In 1967, we moved to the old Parsonage next to the downtown Unitarian Church. We loved living downtown. Our three children thought we had surely come to live in paradise.

One night there was a knock on our front door. A man who we did not recognize had a petition that he was circulating around our neighborhood. It was supporting two high-rise condominiums to be built on the old El Mirasol Hotel property across the street from the church. When we inquired who was behind this project, we couldn’t get an answer.


We knew this was a big mistake, having seen other towns that had been destroyed by high-rise buildings. We felt helpless and didn’t know what to do. Then, a friend mentioned Pearl Chase. We had no idea what we were in for.

We called up Pearl Chase, who lived in the neighborhood, and told her about the petition. “I’ll be right over,” she said. When she came to our door, we knew here was a greater presence than the small white-haired lady who stood before us. She immediately took charge. She confided to us that this project was “a kick in the stomach by her friends”. Her friends were Thomas Storke, (owner of the News-Press) and Louis Lancaster, (owner of the SB Bank and Trust).

Our association with Pearl was an eye-opener for us “newcomers”. She worked seven days a week for the beautification and preservation of Santa Barbara. She told us that when she graduated from Berkeley, she arrived home and stepped off the train full of disgust. She was ashamed of Santa Barbara’s dirt roads and vowed then and there to devote her life to the city she loved.

She had always gathered people around her who had similar goals, as she did when she formed a group called “Santa Barbara Plans and Planting.” She had a little office downtown where she sat at her desk like a queen.

But she had never had to face a battle like this one

In our battle to keep Santa Barbara low rise, we attended endless council meetings under her direction, and tried to inform the public using her media savvy. Pearl and her small group founded SAVE OUR CITY (SOC) as a focal point for community support.

To see Pearl Chase in action with the City Council, very clearly making her viewpoint known was a lesson in power projection.

When we heard that the City Council was going to give a variance to the builders, we were shocked. We decided to advertise and ask for public financial support to take our case to the courts. We asked for money for our legal fees and the people of Santa Barbara responded enthusiastically.

One woman wrote to us that she was postponing her kitchen renovation, and sent the kitchen money to SOC. John Sink became SOC’s attorney. Two years from the day that the petitioner came to our front door, the courts decided that the so-called variance did not conform to the zoning laws, and found against the high-rise project. Pearl was a very happy woman and we and all the members of SOC were proud to have worked with her.

The site of the old El Mirasol Hotel is now a beautiful garden
, thanks to the generous donation of Alice Keck Park, and the tireless efforts of Pearl Chase.

Happy Birthday Pearl Chase

classic pearl chase with flower 80 years oldToday we celebrate the birthday of Pearl Chase, which ought to be a day of recognition in this city that owes her so much. So much of the natural and architectural beauty we see around our community is directly attributable to her influence and vision.

In her day she wielded great power, but never held political office. Throughout her long life she was honored by organizations and individuals near and far. In her later years, the community gathered for commemorate her milestone birthdays.” – Cheri Rae

Live and Let Live

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150One of our neighbors passed away last week. His name was Richard Springer; he was 73 years old, a gentle soul who found his final home on a quiet street on the East side, just a few blocks from downtown. In the old-fashioned neighborhood lined with modest bungalows, Richard parked his early-model silver-gray and red Toyota minivan and lived there for 16, maybe 18 years, no one is quite sure.

He lived right across the street from the Victoria Market, the little corner store that has been a fixture in the neighborhood for decades. When the little kids who grow up here are old enough to walk to the market for an ice cream or a cold drink, it’s almost a rite of passage to sit on the little bench outside and savor the moment. The view from the bench has long included Richard’s home. It’s been as much a part of the scene as the tall palms that framed it, and the brilliant bougainvillea that formed a colorful backdrop.

richard's spot[2]It’s jarring now that it’s gone. Although there is a makeshift memorial there, with flowers and artwork marking his spot, it just looks empty.

He moved that minivan every Monday morning, carefully staying one quick step ahead of the street sweeper. And he reminded neighbors to do the same, saving them hundreds of dollars in tickets. That van was once towed away by the police, when Richard was out on one of his long walks around town. Ruby, one of the owners of the Victoria Market, begged the officer not to take it, but her words fell on deaf ears. She ended up paying the $480 in impound fees, and Richard promised to pay her back—not an easy feat on his limited income—and in time, he did.

Richard was born in Ohio; he grew up on a farm, and liked the connection to nature that simple life provided. He once traveled to Alaska and served as a cook’s helper, and had spent some time in the Bay Area. He served our country in the Army as a medic.

neighborsSo it was fitting that on Veteran’s Day, neighbors gathered to share memories of Richard, to pay respects for his service, and for the life that he lived. Ruby and Shala of the Victoria Market, who were his surrogate family members for years, hosted the event attended by more than 30 neighbors who offered their observations: “I always gave him a nod; I felt like I knew him,” said one neighbor who exchanged brief moments with Richard when he walked past. “You could always tell what kind of a day he was having from the look in those blue eyes.”

Another noted, “He was spiritual without being religious. He was almost like a monk, at peace with himself and with the neighborhood.”

A neighbor who had frequently enjoyed wide-ranging conversations with Richard observed that he was an avid reader who was “thoughtful and intellectual.” He arrived with a book tucked under his arm, one that Richard had loaned to him. Titled, “Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance,” it is a collection of highbrow essays about medical ethics, procedures, and health care by award-winning medical writer Atal Gawande. Richard was skeptical about modern medicine, particularly after treatment at the VA hospital. Remembering that Richard frequented the library, he noted that he was there to read the books, not just to pass the time.

Others recounted personal characteristics that Richard had: his long, purposeful strides, his penchant for cleanliness, down to his shined and polished shoes; the red bandana or the straw sunhat he often wore. His kindness in trading organic fruit and avocados with neighbors, and bringing flowers when Ruby had surgery; his concerns about politics, the environment and global warming; his interest in technology, with his iPod and the solar panel on his van.

Richard was not homeless; he chose to live a very simple life rooted in the community, making his rounds on foot to Farmers’ Market, the Cabrillo Bathhouse, Trader Joe’s, the library and the Courthouse. He mostly kept to himself, bothering no one, and in this neighborhood, no one bothered him. We were good for each other in this way. In his quiet and dignified way of living, he taught many of us to rethink our beliefs. As one neighbor observed, “His presence was very important; he bent, broke some stereotypes and provided us with a different perspective. We went way beyond tolerance into acceptance.”

Another agreed, “I saw him all the time, and unlike a lot of the other guys around town, there was very good energy around him.” Clean, sober, respectful and kind, Richard Springer was a part of our cherished neighborhood, and he is missed. May he rest in peace.

Stop. In the Name of Love

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150It’s all about the kids: beautiful, inquisitive, funny, charming, innocent little ones who are utterly dependent on the adults in their lives for their very existence. Healthy food, a peaceful home; a sense of security, loving treatment, intellectual stimulation, physical activity, medical care, and most of all safety—the list is nearly endless, even for the very youngest among us.

As they grow and mature, our parental responsibilities get only more complex as we work hard to meet the unique needs of our children. And it doesn’t always go according to plan: there are unexpected challenges in the lives of every family, met by love, commitment and that almost inexplicable desire to move heaven and earth to give them the best lives possible, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Right now, I know parents struggling, yet determined, to to help their children who have intellectual, physical or emotional issues—some living at home, others living in therapeutic environments. It’s not what anyone ever expected, but they handle what happens.

The growing independence of the teen years gets our children out into the world, and exposes them to forces beyond our control. All of us do our best to instill good judgment in them, but experiments with drugs and alcohol, and encounters with cars can be frightening—even deadly.

Such was the case last Friday night, when three 13-year-old girls were hit and killed across the street from the elementary school my brother attended, just a couple blocks away from our family home in Orange. This horrific accident made news across the country: compounding the tragedy, it was a hit-and-run; two of the girls were twins; they were crossing in a crosswalk, and it was Halloween night.

On that special night of fun for kids, you would expect every member of every community would slow down and drive extra-carefully. In the absence of such prudence, young lives have been lost and families destroyed forever. There’s something wrong, very wrong, when we are familiar with specific crosswalks, corners and intersections where people have been hit and killed by cars.

Here, in Santa Barbara, it’s Las Positas, Milpas, Camino Real, Santa Barbara Street, Cathedral Oaks, Sabado Tarde, places on the 101, and more, where we pause and remember lives cut short. Back in my hometown it’s now the intersection of Fairhaven and Jacaranda streets. We stop, think and say a prayer for those lost, and those left behind coping with their unimaginable losses.

After all that goes into raising a young life into adulthood, to have it lost forever due to another’s momentary lapse is nearly beyond comprehension. We’re in this together, in our care for our kids, our families, our communities.

Please, slow down, look around, and stop when necessary. Drive like you care about the people on foot, on bikes, and in crosswalks. No momentary need for speed is as important as the lives you protect. They are loved, they matter, and we can’t bear these unnecessary losses anymore. Not here, not there, not anywhere, or any day.


By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150When you saw first read this headline, did it rhyme? Or did it sound like Reed/Dred?

How well would you do in the classroom—where reading is everything—if you couldn’t figure out the sounds that letters make?

“Just try harder.” “Just concentrate.” “Just care more.” That’s what struggling readers are told often told.

Or even better, “Just sound it out.” Right. In fact, sound out the word right, tight, might. If you can’t remember that gh is silent, it’s not much help.

Then if you do remember that gh is silent, it’s not much help when you encounter words like rough or tough or cough (oh, and by the way, rough and tough sound the same but cough doesn’t). Because in those words, the gh sounds like F.

Remember that, too.

‘F’ like in the Feeling of Failure that surrounds so many students in school today. ‘F’ as in the grade too many of them receive. Kids who are smart, motivated and curious. Kids who have a neurological difference in their brains that can make the typical classroom tasks, like remembering all the rules of spelling, silent letters, and sight words, reasons for no end of their misery.

Compounding their difficulty is that they may be able to tell you a richly detailed story, but writing it is problematic—so their assessments rarely reflect their knowledge or their intelligence.

That’s the dilemma faced by 1 in 5 students who must to be taught to read in a different way from the rest of the kids. The kids with dyslexia. And if they’re not taught with a multi-sensory, multi-modal, research-based reading program proven to work, their ability to read will plateau off at about a third-grade level and stay there.

Until some adult figures it out, and helps them get the specific help they need. But parents, teachers, administrators are often baffled by these kids who work hard and have the reputation as “slow readers” or kids who “don’t test well.”

Far too many of these kids manage to underachieve their way all the way through the school system, and show up at City College, where they finally get tested and learn the reason for their difficulties: an undiagnosed learning disability, with processing issues, often times dyslexia.

Too often, they don’t find out until they are adults working to help their own children who are struggling to read. Count the financial wizard Charles Schwab (and Santa Barbara High School graduate Class of 1955) and the brilliant director Steven Spielberg in that group.

Dyslexia Awareness Month displayOctober is National Dyslexia Awareness Month. Locally, it’s been so designated by our County Board of Supervisors and by our Mayor and City Council. Our Santa Barbara Unified School District is doing more to increase local awareness than ever before—including creating a display at La Cumbre Mall.

And this Thursday, at the Parent Resource Center at the school district office (720 Santa Barbara Street), I’ll be holding an Open House from 1p.m. to 5 p.m., and showing the acclaimed film, “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.” It’s the least we can do for our 1 in 5 kids who learn differently and depend on us to know how to teach them so they can learn to read, write, and do their best in school.

For more information, contact Cheri Rae at

(Cough) Déjà-vu All Over Again (Cough, Cough)

by Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150A decade ago, my healthy, strong second-grade son contracted pertussis, aka whooping cough. He had been fully immunized against this bacterial disease, but he got it anyway. Of all the childhood colds and flus, aches and pains, accidents and infections, the bout with whooping cough was by far the worst—and the after-effects went on forever.

In all the heated discussion about vaccines and anti-vaccines, here’s a little light: No one hears about the broken ribs, the weakened immune systems, the damaged bronchial tubes, the lost stamina, the time away from school. The amount of time it takes to fully heal.

Because his bronchial tubes were so damaged from the weeks that turned into months of coughing spasms, my son was left with “reactive airway disease,” and was under the care of our community’s asthma guru, Dr. Liebhaber. For four years he had an inhaler, one at home, one at school. He took Advair and Singulair, and sometimes, when his breathing was bad, he had to take doses of Prednisone. The humidifier was our best friend; dry, hot weather our worst enemy. During the ashy, particulate-filled days of the Tea, Zaca and Jesusita fires, he had to leave town.

There were ugly side effects to the powerful drugs, but he needed them to get better.

It was a long, tough journey back, and now that strapping high school senior is a picture of good health.

But here come the news reports that vaccine-preventable whooping cough is back in Santa Barbara. A disease that was nearly eradicated nationwide has taken hold across the state and far beyond—and there have been a few additional breakouts in town in the past 10 years.

I’ve been keeping track because it was such an unexpected and traumatic upheaval in our lives, that included a period when our family was quarantined in our home. I researched whooping cough. Wrote about it. Spoke out about it years ago on the “Today Show” and just last year I flew across the country to appear on a medical show on Public Television called “Second Opinion.” In short, I know more about whooping cough than any parent ought to.

In the past 10 years, a few things have changed: The FDA approved a booster shot for whooping cough, and it’s supposed to be given to every incoming high school student. But now, more parents have learned about “Personal Belief waivers” and have declined to immunize their children.

Despite widespread scientific evidence debunking the link between autism and vaccines the myth continues out of the mouths of politicians and celebrities and internet anti-vaxx “experts.” And we also know that the concept of herd immunity requires individuals to take responsibility for public health, and collectively vaccinate—to protect our own children and the community at large.

But still incidence of this awful disease keeps rising. And it is awful long after the 100 days of coughing finally subside.

These new cases of whooping cough will once again raise the voices of the organic, holistic, homeopathic-for-everything, believers in the notion that thinking positive thoughts and lots of fresh air and sunshine will keep the negative things in life away. They won’t want to listen to the fact that Bordetella pertussis is one highly communicable and very nasty germ that attacks anyway, no matter how pure your diet or your thoughts. And unless and until we change our thinking, and our actions, now that it’s taken hold again, it’s never going away.

Editor’s Note: A healthy herd immunity rate is around 95 percent. Waldorf is hardly the only school that has had an outbreak of whooping cough in recent years. Plenty of other public and private schools have had them as well. A Look up the immunization rate at your child’s school:

Water Waste/Water Wise

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150The drought is never far from our minds, and certainly not out of sight, here in parched Santa Barbara. Our lawns are long-gone, native plants are drying out, specimen trees are giving up, and even succulents are drooping. It’s been a long time since the dolphins in the landmark fountain have been splashed with water.

Governor Brown might have declared a water emergency for all the state, but from what I’ve seen lately, not everyone is paying much attention at all.

I often visit relatives in Orange County, and as far as I can tell, no one notices there’s a drought there, where sprinklers flow and gardens grow lush and green just miles from the Happiest Place on Earth.

WESTLAKEThis past weekend, I had lunch with friends who live in LA at our halfway point, Westlake Village. We met at a restaurant where, apparently there is no worries about the drought there, either. At this faux Tuscan villa, complete with a well-tended vineyard, the fountains are flowing, the misters are misting, even on just a day that didn’t get past the 80s.

While the drought is certainly statewide issue, it’s obviously a matter of politics and community awareness in the ways it’s approached. Some, apparently unconcerned about the drought, hold onto the unforgettable words uttered by William Mullholland when he opened the California Aqueduct in 1913, “There it is. Take it.”

And they just keep on taking with little thought of where it comes from. Or who else might be affected.

Here on the Central Coast, we don’t exactly have the luxury of ignoring water worries, as my friend pointed out. She is a professor of California History at a state university—someone who understands well the history of Water Wars in the Golden State. As she and her husband contemplate retirement some years from now, access to water is one of their main considerations. Last time we talked, they were still thinking about relocating to the Santa Barbara area as a retirement destination, but not anymore.

“Let’s face it,” she reminded me, “The Central Coast is one of the most vulnerable spots in all of California when it comes to water.” All we have to do is look at Lake Cachuma, and it becomes pretty obvious—there isn’t much left around here. And re-furbishing the long-mothballed and virtually unused desal plant raises all kinds of environmental and economic questions for residents and potential ones.

During our ladies’ lunch we also touched on drought-emergency craziness of growing alfalfa and cotton in our state; a huge corporation like Nestle’s pumping aquifers in the desert to sell bottled water; and losing our cool over the wet misters spraying right above our heads.

Which got me to thinking, on the drive home, about the number of visitors who travel from those water-wasting communities to Santa Barbara, where our local residents scrimp and sacrifice to cut our water usage. I hope they’re not bringing that Mulholland philosophy of “There it is. Take it,” right here with them.

But I bet they are. They come here on vacation, after all. And there’s a certain feeling of entitlement that comes with that.

At this point, it’s not about the cost; it’s about our collective ability to adapt to the reality of a (very) limited and rapidly dwindling essential resource. Once again, we’re reminded of the dubious notion of packing people into Santa Barbara with a limited carrying capacity and rainfall nowhere in sight.

The Dodgers of Santa Barbara

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150It was already bad enough that loyal Dodgers fans could only watch a handful of games this season, due to the failure of Time Warner to negotiate acceptable prices with cable and satellite providers. Cox in Santa Barbara, it should be noticed, didn’t even carry the final six regular season games that were finally allowed the right to broadcast by an Orange County station.

Heck, we could hardly even hear the legendary Vin Scully call the games on radio, since the Ventura station has a tendency to drift once the sun goes down. And we die-hard fans were stunned, unable to watch two Dodgers’ no-hitters in a season that seemed to offer so much promise.

We consoled ourselves: At least we could watch the playoff games—except the exciting Dodger win on Saturday night, carried only on MLB Network. And the idea of making it all the way to the World Series this year almost made the long blackout worth it.

So it was particularly sad to see the Boys in Blue strike out in the first round of the National League Division Series, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals. Again.

That refrain of “wait until next year” is getting old. But Dodgers fans, especially those is Santa Barbara, have high hopes and long memories. For nearly three decades, from the 1940s through the 1960s, Santa Barbara was home to Dodgers’-affiliated minor league teams.

That classic old 6-acre, WPA-built major league-sized ballfield at Laguna Park was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm team, the Saints. Play was suspended during World War II, but began again in 1946, with the debut of the Santa Barbara Dodgers, a strong team in the California League.

Laguna Ball Field Circa 1940

The relationship between Santa Barbara and the Dodgers continued after the team moved west, until 1967, when management announced that the Dodgers had lost $100,000 on the team that was drawing tiny crowds, so they moved to the always-more-affordable Bakersfield.

And as has been noted here before, the old ballpark didn’t last much longer. It was demolished in 1970 to make way for a parking lot for city buses. It was an unceremonious end to America’s game in Santa Barbara, by way of a historic team.

But baseball fans in this town are getting used to it. In fact, Santa Barbara was once home to Ernest Thayer, after he wrote “Casey At the Bat.” The classic American poem ends, much like the Dodgers’ season:

“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.”

Wait until next year.

Santa Barbara Dodgers

The Man Who Planted Trees: Dr. Augustus Boyd Doremus

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150Recent focus on the dead, dying and dried-out Italian Stone Pines of Anapamu Street failed to provide much historic context for how they got here in the first place. Yet they still manage to hold on, 77 years after the death of Dr. Augustus Boyd Doremus, the man who planted them.

doremusDr. Doremus was born on the Fourth of July, a Civil War veteran and a dentist, with a passion for horticulture. He moved to Santa Barbara for his health and lived to be 95 years old. Doremus is known as the “Father of Santa Barbara’s Parks.”

When Dr. Doremus and his wife purchased a huge lot in the 600 block of Anapamu Street in 1891, the property was described as “a barren half-block.” But even before their house was completed, they set about creating a garden on the hillside that was, “filled with unusual flora planted with the thought of special groupings around an expansive view. The garden was much admired by the many visitors, including outstanding horticulturalists who came to Santa Barbara.”

Horticulture was all the rage back in those days, and Santa Barbara was a hot spot for the trading and securing of seeds and cuttings from around the world. Both Dr. Doremus and his friend Dr. Francesco Franceschi participated, and enjoyed raising the seedlings and small plants in their respective nurseries. They planted them in their own gardens, in city parks and in parkways.

In 1908, Dr. Doremus planted a double row of Italian Stone Pines seedlings on either side of the narrow dirt Anapamu Street between Milpas and Canal (now Olive) streets. In 1929, he extended the planting all the way to Garden Street using seeds sent from Europe by his brother. The trees grew strong in the Mediterranean climate.

The huge Doremus estate was a destination of garden-lovers from around the world, and a number of grand parties, weddings and other gala events were held at the large mansion and expansive gardens on the property. Standout specimen plants were regularly featured in the pages of “Santa Barbara Gardener,” edited by Lockwood and Elizabeth de Forest (parents of Kellam de Forest) and published by the Plans and Planting Committee of Santa Barbara.

After his wife passed away, Dr. Doremus moved in next door with his daughter in her equally expansive home and garden. Upon his death in 1937, he was remembered in Santa Barbara Gardener: “The spirit of gardening shone in Dr. Doremus as in few men—the spirit of zeal tempered by a sense of humor.At the age of ninety he chopped down some large trees in his garden and planted young ones for the joy of seeing them grow and he actually lived to see them good sized specimens.”

A 1981 article in Noticias noted, “Dr. Doremus was remembered by all who knew him—the bank tellers, the gardeners, the many intimate friends—as a tall, stately, kindly man, ‘a real gentleman,’ ‘a gallant and noble spirit.’ With fifty-five of his ninety-five years devoted to Santa Barbara, he is remembered as one of the city’s foremost benefactors through his work in behalf of the parks and street tree plantings. Those who know the story can scarcely go anywhere in Santa Barbara without being reminded of Dr. A. Boyd Doremus.

Widely respected in his day for bringing so much life and beauty to this city, he has largely been forgotten. Yes, there’s an old plaque in Alameda Park, but nothing near the tree-shaded street of Anapamu where he left his still-growing legacy.

The magnificent old Doremus mansions were demolished and the graceful gardens destroyed, replaced in the 1960s by two massive apartment complexes. Back then, the developer was required to preserve the historic sandstone walls and the buildings were situated around the specimen trees on the property to save as many of them as possible. Unfortunately, a few years ago, the developer who purchased the property destroyed one of the original sandstone walls, and chopped down a thriving urban forest.

The Stone Pines struggle on—as they have for decades. That 1981 article noted: “Today, the pavement reaches the bases of the trees and their roots fight the encroachment. Several of the pines have been lost, yet the remaining overarching branches are admired, and their cooling shade appreciated, by all who pass that way.”

According to a recent city report on the 79 Italian Stone Pines that remain standing, “Four are currently dead…12 are in poor health, 24 are in fair health, 26 are in good health, and 19 are in excellent health.”

It’s time we correct our long neglect of the arboreal legacy of Dr. Doremus and create some on-the-ground interpretation of this historic part of Santa Barbara, where the city’s first park superintendent once lived, worked, and extended his vision far beyond his earthly years. We may not be able to save all his trees, but we can educate and preserve his memory. Call it the A. Boyd Doremus Historic Walk. Have a ribbon-cutting, install plaques, invite residents and visitors to keep his memory green. It’s the least we owe him, this man who planted trees.