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Fire Razed Potter Hotel on April 13, 1921

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.

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A Bird’s Eye View of Santa Barbara, California

The place to be for Earth Day… when it comes to celebrating all that’s green, Santa Barbara was voted by as as Top Ten City to visit for Earth Day.

Recommended reading… Matt Mazza, the likeable Editor-in-Chief of the Santa Barbara Sentinel, has published a new book called Leaving It All Behind: One Family’s Search—a true travel tale told in real time about his family’s voyage around the world.

Huell Howser had a love for Santa Barbara… this Friday, Santa Barbara will plant a tree to honor the legacy of the gregarious television host. The ceremony will take place at the Santa Barbara Mission lawn, 2201 Laguna St. at noon,

This date in Santa Barbara County… W.W. Broughton published the first issue of the weekly Lompoc Record on April 10, 1875. Two weeks later, when the Lompoc dairy lands were sold at auction, the trustees of the Lompoc Valley Land Owners’ Association voted another $1,500 to assist Mr. Broughton in publishing his newspaper.

Speaking of local anniversaries… yesterday, Santa Barbara’s historic Granda Theatre celebrated 90 years since first opening its doors on April 9, 1924. You will see their black and gold flags flying over downtown Santa Barbara this week.

Santa Barbara celebrity Julia Louis-Dreyfus poses nude for Rolling Stone.

Today is the due date for the first installment of one’s property taxes… a day when Santa Barbara homeowners have to write absurdly large checks to Harry Hagen, county tax collector. The County website is up-to speed with credit card and electronic check payment options. You can also pay by phone, 1-866-308-8872.

Rusty’s lighthouse is closing… the seven other pizza locations remain. The lighthouse location was made famous by George Virginio Castagnola, who started as a Depression-era, door-to-door fish salesman, who then became synonymous with seafood in Santa Barbara via The Lobster House at 15 E. Cabrillo Blvd.

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California Poppy Day

Did you know… April 6th has been designated California Poppy Day?

Poppies and Daisies in the-Sprinklers by Bill Heller

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.

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Historic Inspiration for Santa Barbara High Schools Girls’ Basketball Team

The Santa Barbara High School lady Dons will be playing the Division 3 State CIF basketball quarterfinals tonight at 7 P.M., J.R. Richards Gym. They will host Mt. Miguel with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Here is some historic inspiration by Cheri Rae.

Although we usually think of Pearl Chase as a formidable woman of great power, vision and wisdom, she began honing those skills when she attended Santa Barbara High School (class of 1904).

She organized the girls’ basketball team and served as the captain and player/coach. The first season consisted of five games—one game against Santa Paula and three games against Ventura—and Santa Barbara finished with a record of 2-3. As literary editor of the school’s magazine she wrote, “We hope that interest in basket-ball will increase among the girls so that with more practice and skill, the new team may defeat all challengers on the basketball field, and worthily uphold the name of the Santa Barbara High School.”

Basketball team

Santa Barbara High Girls’ basketball team circa 1904. Captain, coach, player: Pearl Chase, center, holding the basketball above her head.


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Santa Barbara, a Large-Scale Irish Colony?

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.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Santa Barbara.

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Spanish Street Names of Santa Barbara

2 Anne of Austria (1601–1666) as a young Princess b

Anne of Austria

CALLE GRANADA (kah’-ee-eh grah-nah’dah) Pomegranate Street. Pomegranates were first brought to California by the Franciscan missionaries inasmuch as they are a favorite delicacy in Spain. Once upon a time, tradition has it, the withered coronal of the fruit caught the fancy of the renowned Spanish Princess, Anne of Austria, who promptly adopted the pomegranate as her emblem and, noting how withered the flower formed a crumbling crown, added the motto: “My worth is not in the crown.” – Rosario Curletti

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Date in Santa Barbara History… de la Guerra Born

delaguerraJosé 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.

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Presidential History in Santa Barbara

Local presidential history… on May 9th, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited Santa Barbara, California. Below is a brief summary from the newspaper.
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Ronald Reagan Day in Santa Barbara

0000077980-reagan014-004The Reagan Ranch Center, at 217 State Street, has dubbed February 6th as Ronald Reagan Day. The Center is celebrating the 103rd anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth with an open house today from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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Santa Barbara’s Famous Flying A Studio

As part of our coverage of the 29th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Santa Barbara View will provide previews of films and event that locals may enjoy.
For all the history buffs out there, this Friday, January 31st, Neal Graffy will be giving an “illustrated lecture” on the history of the Flying A studio. “A Liar, a Drunk & a Piano Teacher – The Story of the Flying A”. The lecture takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 E de la Guerra. Museum members and Film Fest passholders are free, all others pay $10.


Scene from “The Secret of the Submarine”

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Goleta Post Office Massacre, Eight Years Ago

Jennifer San Marco

From the View Vault… January 30th is another infamous day in the history of Santa Barbara County. Today marks the eight-year anniversary of the Goleta post office massacre.

After killing her next-door neighbor with a shot to the head, Jennifer San Marco went on to open fire inside the U.S. Postal Service building in Goleta, killing seven employees before taking her own life. The shootings comprised the worst mass murder by a woman in the history of the United States. Continue Reading →

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Remember Gemina, the Crooked-Neck Giraffe?

germinaSanta Barbara’s famous giraffe with the crooked neck died six 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. Continue Reading →

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Happy Herb Peterson Day

Happy 6th annual Herb Peterson Day! In honor of the man who invented the Egg McMuffin in Santa Barbara, the six local franchises will be selling the popular breakfast sandwich for only $1 today. Mr. Peterson created the Egg McMuffin in 1971 and the first sandwich was served on State Street. Peterson passed away in 2008, but his legacy lives in the form of eggs, grilled Canadian bacon, cheese, and a toasted and buttered English muffin.

In addition, the first 10 customers to order Egg McMuffins for $1 at each restaurant will receive a copy of “The Good Egg: Herb Peterson, the Egg McMuffin and the Secret Ingredients of Innovation,” by Mr. Peterson’s surviving son, David, and Ann Marsh. The book also will be available at the six Santa Barbara and Goleta restaurants for $10.95.

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A View of Santa Barbara in January, 1835

As we ring in 2014, here’s a historical view of Santa Barbara in January, 1835

“Lie the mission and town of Santa Barbara, on a low plain, but little above the level of the sea, covered with grass, though entirely without trees, and surrounded on three sides by an amphitheater of mountains, which slant off to the distance of fifteen or twenty miles. The mission stands a little back of the town, and is a large building, or rather collection of buildings, in the center of which is a high tower, with a belfry of five bells,” Richard Henry Dana, Jr. wrote is his classic, Two Years Before the Mast.

“The town lies a little nearer to the beach – about half a mile from it – and is composed of one-story houses built of sun-baked clay, or adobe, some of them whitewashed, with red tiles on the roof. I should judge that there were about a hundred of them; and in the midst of them stands the Presidio, or fort built of the same materials and apparently but little stronger. The town is finely situated, with a bay in the front, and an amphitheater of hills behind,” Dana Jr. concluded in his 1835 voyage around the California coastline.

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New Year’s Stories from Santa Barbara County

On New Year’s Day of 1874, all of Santa Barbara County which lay east of the Rincon broke away to become Ventura County. This was brought about by the Ventura district supervisor, Thomas R. Bard, who later became a State Senator.

Within a few years, according to Walker A. Tompkins, the people in Lompoc also decided that it would be handier for them if Lompoc could also be a county seat. “It takes all day by horse or stagecoach to reach the courthouse in Santa Barbara,” complained the Lompoc farmers. “That is too far to go every time we need to transact business. If Ventura can be a county seat, why can’t Lompoc?
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