Today marks the 233rd anniversary of the Founding of El Real Presidio and the City of Santa Barbara by his Majesty King Carlos III of Spain.
El Presidio de Santa Bárbara was the birthplace of Santa Barbara and home to the original founding ceremony, held on April 21, 1782.
There will be a two-day celebration this weekend which will include three events: Candlelight Dinner in the Historic Presidio Chapel, Founding Day Festival, and Rancho Roundup. The candlelight dinner in the Historic Presidio Chapel has never been done before and will be a once-in-a-lifetime evening… for more information, CLICK HERE.
On this date in Santa Barbara history the magnificent Potter Hotel was destroyed by a fire. Crowds watched in horror as flames quickly engulfed the Potter Hotel on April 13, 1921. The hotel opened on January 19, 1903 and cost over $1 million to build.
100+ guests were safely evacuated, but with winds gusting from fifty to eighty miles per hour, the fire spread quickly and burnt the hotel to the ground within three hours. Flying debris even set fire to Stearns Wharf and to the tall palms that line the boulevard along West Beach. Only few chimneys were left of what had been one of the finest hotels on the West Coast.
Faulty wiring was found to be the cause, although many historians suspect it was arson. Several attempts were purportedly made to burn down the hotel which had been heavily insured and was steadily losing money, and the fire department believed that all the fires they extinguished has been deliberately set. Although arson was suspected, it was never confirmed.
Did you know… April 6th has officially been designated California Poppy Day?
On December 12, 1890, the members of the California State Floral Society voted for a flower that they thought would best serve the State of California as an official emblem. The California Poppy won the esteemed title of ‘Official California State Flower’ by an overwhelming landslide. It took almost 13 years for the California Legislature to get around to adopting the winning golden poppy as the State flower. The golden poppy, Eschscholzia, was selected as the official State flower of California by an act of the Legislature on March 2, 1903. In 1973, the law was amended to designate April 6th as California Poppy Day.
A St. Patrick’s Day post from the Santa Barbara View Vault
Had it not been for the imminence of the American takeover, it is possible that Santa Barbara might have become part of a plan to establish a large-scale Irish colony, subsidized by the London capitalists with an ultimate view to British annexation of California, Walker A. Tompkins wrote in Yankee Barbarenos.
In 1845, Eugene McNamera had petitioned the president of Mexico for a $71 million grant of land in Alta California on which to establish three, tax-free Irish colonies – one in Santa Barbara. His plan would have transplanted shamrocks amid California poppies and promised to bring 10,000 Irish emigrants to the colonies.
The grant was signed by Pio Pico, the last Mexican Governor of California, but once the Yankees planted their flag in the California soil for good, the grant was declared invalid.
José Antonio Julian de la Guerra y Noriega was born on March 6, 1779, at Novales in Santander, Spain. De la Guerra, commandante of the Royal Presidio, was considered the most influential Spanish-born resident of Santa Barbara at the time of the American take-over of California. He retained ownership of five of the choicest ranch grants in Southern California, and his home, Casa de la Guerra, is today the best known Spanish-era residence in Santa Barbara, California.
The last time that the U.S. mainland had been attacked by a foreign power was during the War of 1812. But on the evening of February 23, 1942 — just two months after Pearl Harbor — a Japanese submarine shelled oil fields off the coast of Santa Barbara’s Ellwood Beach. Although no one was injured and damage was minimal, the attack would serve as a catalyst in the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans.
“No event in Santa Barbara history, with the possible exception of the 1925 earthquake, created more excitement at the time, or evoked more discussion in its wake, than the abortive shelling of Ellwood on February 23, 1942,” wrote Walker A. Tompkins. “According to Japanese military records seized after V-J Day, Captain Nishino went down with his sub when it was destroyed by Allied planes off New Caledonia on August 19, 1943. He took to his watery grave the details of why he chose to attack Ellwood or what actually took place on the evening in 1942.”
On this Presidents Day Weekend, here’s a look back at local history… on May 9th, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited Santa Barbara, California. Roosevelt was the second President to visit Santa Barbara, Benjamin Harrison was the first 1891, and after the stop noted in the excerpt, he toured the historic Old Mission. Below is a brief summary from the newspaper.
Santa Barbara’s famous giraffe with the crooked neck died seven years ago today. Gemina was a 12-foot-tall Baringo giraffe who captivated Santa Barbara Zoo goers for over 20 years. She was born without any deformities but her neck soon took on a pronounced zigzag – a near ninety degree curve so unusual that scientists had not seen anything like it since 1902. Despite her rare deformity, Gemina lived six years longer than the average life for a giraffe. She came to Santa Barbara Zoo at the tender age of one.