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.
Happy 7th 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.
As we ring in 2015, 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.
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?” Continue reading…
The Congress, by Public Law has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day;” but, did you know that the first Japanese attack on the United States occurred in Goleta? Hawaii was not a state at the time of the Pearl Harbor attacks and on February 23, 1942, a Japanese submarine shelled the Ellwood Oil Field west of Goleta, triggering an invasion scare along the West Coast.
Although only a pumphouse and catwalk at one oil well were damaged, Captain Nishino Kozo radioed Tokyo that he had left Santa Barbara in flames. No casualties were reported and the total cost of the damage was estimated at approximately $750.
228 years ago today…. Mission Santa Barbara, the tenth of the California missions, was established on the Feast of Saint Barbara, December 4, 1786. Padre Junipero Serra, who had founded the first nine missions, had died two years earlier. It was Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, his successor, who raised the cross.
Here’s a closer look out our Mission Santa Barbara from this year’s Mission Week:
Mission Santa Barbara was founded on December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara, by Father Fermín Lasuén, who had taken over the presidency of the California mission chain upon the death of Father-Presidente Junípero Serra. It was rededicated December 16, when the new Governor of California, Pedro Fages, could attend. Mission Santa Barbara is the tenth of twenty one California Missions and is known as the “Queen of the Missions.” It is the namesake of the city of Santa Barbara.
Mission Santa Barbara is the only California Mission to remain under the leadership of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M) since its founding. Today its parish is a church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Mission itself is owned by the Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara, the local parish rents the church from the Franciscans.
Santa Barbara was the third mission established in the land of the Chumash people, this one near the native site of Xana’yan, a Chumash village that existed in Mission Canyon. The neophytes (baptized Indians) were referred to as Barbareños (after the mission).
Early missionaries built three different churches during the first few years, each larger than its predecessor. The earthquake of 1812 destroyed the third adobe church of 1794. The present church, built in stone, was started in 1815 and dedicated in September 1820, it had only one tower. In 1831 a second tower was added, it fell in 1832 and was rebuilt in 1834. In 1925 another earthquake damaged the Mission and in 1950, cracks began to appear in the façade as some of the materials used in the 1925 repairs weakened the church and it had to be rebuilt again with steel-reinforced concrete. The stone facing retains the contours, dimension and appearance of the original.
The Neoclassic facade was inspired by a mission archives copy of the Spanish edition of The Six Books of Architecture by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, a Roman architect of 1st century B.C. The work is one of the most important sources of modern knowledge of Roman building methods as well as the planning and design of structures, both large (aqueducts, buildings, baths, harbours) and small (machines, measuring devices, instruments).
The appearance of the inside of the church has not been altered significantly since 1820. The original Moorish fountain built in 1808 is still intact near the entrance to the Mission.
The Mission church is filled with original and noteworthy paintings and statues, including a unique abalone-encrusted Chumash altar dated to the 1790s. The two largest religious paintings in all of the missions are at Santa Barbara. One painting, 168″ high by 103″ wide, depicts the “Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin.” It is thought to have originated in the Mexico City studio of Miguel Mateo Maldonado y Cabrera (1695-1768) and was acquired by the mission in 1798. “The Crucifixion” (168″ by 126″) is not attributed to a specific artist. Mission Santa Barbara has the oldest unbroken tradition of choral singing among the California Missions and of any California institution. The Mission archives also contain one of the richest collections of colonial Franciscan music manuscripts known today.
Thomas Storke, the man who would come to be known as “Mr. Santa Barbara,” was born on this day in 1876. Although his accomplishments were many, Storke is best know for his hand in the local newspaper business. He was 24 years old when he bought the Daily Independent and over 80 when he won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism.
“In 1900, Tom Storke, age 24, borrowed $2,000 to buy the Daily Independent, weakest of the town’s three papers,” wrote the NY Times at the time of his death in 1971. “He sold it in 1909 and went back into the business in 1913 as owner of the Santa Barbara Daily News. Not long afterward he reacquired the Independent and published the combined paper as the Daily News and Independent.”
In 1932, Storke’s competition, the Santa Barbara Morning Press, was on the brink of bankruptcy, and they begged him to take over as owner. He did and merged his newspaper with the Morning Press to create today’s Santa Barbara News-Press. Continue reading…
From 1950 until November 1991, traffic lights along U.S. Highway 101 were a part of Santa Barbara life. Then, twenty three years ago today, the signal at the intersection of Anacapa Street–the last remaining traffic light on U.S. 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco–was removed.
“When the lights were red, they were the only thing between motorists and 435 miles of free-and-open ride up and down the venerable highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco,” wrote the Los Angeles Times. “But when they were green, they seemed to stay green forever, and they divided Santa Barbara in two.” The lights actually lasted up to eight minutes and many motorists turned off their engines! Sheila Lodge, Mayor of Santa Barbara at the time, reportedly spent the interludes poring through her mail.