Archive | SB History RSS feed for this section

This Date in History: Santa Barbara’s First Mass

crespiOn this date in local history, Santa Barbara’s first Christian religious service was held on the site now known as Campanil Crespi. The white bell tower, left, on a glorious Santa Barbara hilltop was built to commemorate Fr. Juan Crespi’s first Mass during the Portola Expedition on August 20, 1769.

Comments { 2 }

John Peck Stearns

This date in Santa Barbara history… John Peck Stearns was born on August 18, 1828.

John Peck Stearns

In 1867 Stearns came to Santa Barbara with his wife Martha and purchased a property at the foot of State Street, where he opened a lumber yard on the beach.  But Santa Barbara lacked a wharf, which meant lumber schooners had to float cargoes ashore, causing damage to the lumber stocks.

Frustrated with Samuel Brinkerhoff’s little Chapala Street pier, Stearns decided to build his own wharf . Stearns borrowed $41,000 from the town’s leading capitalist, Colonel W.W. Hollister, repayable at $500 a month. Stearns imported a pile driver and crew from Port Hueneme and erected a 2,000-foot wharf which opened for business on September 16, 1872.

Stearns’ contributions to Santa Barbara went well beyond building the wharf, which became an economic boom to Santa Barbara.  He led the campaign to bring a railroad terminus to Santa Barbara, he was a major stockholder in the Santa Barbara College project, and he bought the Morning Press in the fall of 1880.  At the time of his death, from a stroke at the age of 74 on March 4, 1902, Stearns enjoyed the status of being one of Santa Barbara’s leading citizens.

Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, panorama 3D by Bill Heller.

Comments { 2 }

Santa Barbara History: The Arlington Hotel Burns

On this date in Santa Barbara history… the palatial old Arlington Hotel was destroyed.

“From 1875 until 1909, the Arlington Hotel was the hub of Santa Barbara’s elite tourist society. The three-story, 90-room hotel was located on State Street between Victoria and Sola streets,” according to local historian Walker A. Tompkins.

The First Arlington Hotel: Photo Credit: J W Collinge. Solely for use on the Santa Barbara View.

At sundown, on August 15th, 1909 flames were seen sprouting from the Arlington’s triple-decked square tower. While guests frantically escaped the building, local Fire Chief, John Dugan, and his crew began striping the hotel of the vintage draperies, tapestries, chandeliers, silverware, and other valuables. The lift operator, Robert Klein, kept the elevator running up and down until he collapsed of a heart attack. The fire burned all night… and by daybreak, only a skeleton of towering chimneys remained!

Comments { 3 }

Thomas Storke’s History of Old Spanish Days

Storke, editor and publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1962.

“As a result of the Community Art’s Association’s drive to harmonize the architecture in a Spanish-California style, buildings began appearing here and there. It was the dedication of one of these—the new Lobero Theatre—which game birth to one of Santa Barbara’s proudest community activities, the Old Spanish Days Fiesta.

The first Fiesta was patterned after the famous floral pageants of the earlier years, notably the Mission Centennial Parade of 1886 and the celebration called ‘The Battle of Flowers in honor of President Benjamin Harrison’s visit in 1891. These had been followed by floral parades called ‘La Primavera.’

The first Fiesta committee was formed in 1924. Appointed to head it was a man destined to become one of Santa Barbara’s leading citizens, Dwight Murphy. Other men helping him in staging the first Fiesta were T. Wilson Dibblee of the historic San Julian Ranch; Sam Stanwood, another prominent civic leader and county supervisor for many years; Harry Sweetser and Francis Price Sr., lawyer and historian; and the world-famous artist Ed Borein.” – Thomas M. Storke, California Editor

Comments { 0 }

30 Years Ago Today: Santa Barbara the Soap Opera Debuted on NBC

30 years ago today, the soap opera Santa Barbara originally aired. The day-time drama, which revolved around the fascinating and tumultuous life of the wealthy Capwell family of Santa Barbara, California, debuted on NBC on July 30, 1984, and last aired on January 15, 1993. Santa Barbara aired in over 40 countries, won 24 Daytime Emmy Awards, and was even watched y the Reagans in the White House.

Comments { 3 }

Pearl Chase Newsletter: July, 2014


Pearl Chase Society Newsletter

Santa Barbara View is proud to publish The Capital, a monthly newsletter of the Pearl Chase Society. You can read the full July newsletter by clicking on the PDF icon, left.

In this issue is a wrap-up of the Historic Homes Tour which was attended by 700 people! Kellam de Forest offers updates on the Juarez-Hosmer Adobe, Irene and Frances Rich Beach Cabana, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s plans for upgrades due to seismic reasons. And Hattie Beresford presents her new book, “My Santa Barbara Scrapbook - A Portrait of the Artist, Elizbeth Eaton Burton“.

PS: please help keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, and consider becoming a member of the Pearl Chase Society. You can also like the Pearl Chase Society on Facebook.

Comments { 0 }

The News-Press Meltdown: Eight Years Ago

Re-Posted with comments from Santa Barbara View’s Vintage Vault:

On Thursday, July 6, 2006… former Santa Barbara News-Press editor Jerry Roberts was escorted out of the News-Press building, escalating a saga which rocked the Santa Barbara community. Following Roberts out the door that fateful day were Metro Editor Jane Hulse, Business Editor Michael Todd, and Barney Brantingham.

In the following weeks, more than 70 Santa Barbara News-Press employees, one-third of the paper’s staff, either quit or were fired. Thousands canceled their subscriptions and the community turned to digital media for news and information.

Comments { 56 }

The Moreton Bay Fig: Planted on July 4, 1876

This date in Santa Barbara history… the famous Moreton Bay Fig was planted!

Legend would have it, that on the 4th of July in 1876, a young girl living on State Street received a mysterious seedling from a sailor down at Stearns Wharf, who was returning from an Australian voyage. The sailor told the young girl to plant it and see what happens. What happened was the Moreton Bay Fig. A year later, because the young girl had to move back East, never to see Santa Barbara again, she gave the young tree to a neighboring friend, and the seedling was transplanted from 201 State Street to the same block on Chapala. Needless to say, the tree grew and grew.

Now, the famous tree’s root system encompasses an acre of ground near the train tracks and highway. The tree – dubbed the Moreton Bay Fig because it was native to Moreton Bay, Australia – really isn’t a fig tree. It has since been identified as a “ficus Macrophylla”, a cousin of the rubber tree family; however, it is believed to be the largest of its species in the world. So, plant a seed today and see what happens.

Happy Fourth of July Santa Barbara!

Comments { 6 }

Date in Santa Barbara History: The Great Quake

On June 29th, 1925, Santa Barbara was rocked by an earthquake…

sbmissMinor temblors were recorded as early as 3:30 am on the 29th, and they continued for three hours. Then, at at 6:44 AM, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the city killing 13 people and destroying over 600 buildings.

The Wharf, Granada Theater and most homes survived in decent shape. However, much of the downtown region crumbled. Hotels collapsed, the Sheffield Dam cracked, and the Mission bell towers were wrecked, picture above. All in all, over $8 million of damage was done by the great quake of 1925.

PS: As noted in the History of the City, one of the catalysts for the architectural development of Santa Barbara was this earthquake which destroyed many commercial buildings in the business district, most of which were built of un-reinforced masonry.

Comments { 0 }

Santa Barbara’s Painted Cave Fire: 24 Years Ago

Today marks the 24th anniversary of the Painted Cave Fire in Santa Barbara. On June 27, 1990, at 6:02 p.m. a fire started up in the mountains near a place called Painted Cave. A long drought had made the brush very dry, and a several day heat wave was further drying up the area. Just as the sun was setting, strong winds began blowing the fire down the mountain towards town.

The Painted Cave Fire as seen from the corner of Constance and De La Vina

Two hours later the fire had done the impossible. It had traveled five miles downhill cutting a swath between Goleta and Santa Barbara setting afire entire neighborhoods in it’s path. The fire jumped the combination of Santa Barbara’s six-lane freeway and the two side roads, Calle Real and Hollister and continued burning down stores, restaurants, businesses, apartment buildings, and more houses on the other side. All roads between Santa Barbara and Goleta were blocked by the fire, it was impossible to get from one side to the other.
Continue Reading →

Comments { 0 }

Mission Santa Inés

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th). 

Mission Santa Inés
sbmissionweek2Mission Santa Inés, often (mis)spelled Santa Ynez, was founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estévan Tapís.  This mission is the ninetieth of twenty one California Missions and the third to honor a sainted woman.  It was chosen as a midway point between Mission Santa Barbara and Mission La Purísima Concepción and named for Saint Agnes, also known as Saint Inés, of Rome, Italy (patron saint of girls), it was the first educational institution in California and today serves as a museum as well as a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Mission Santa Inés expanded rapidly, the other eighteen Missions were at the height of prosperity and many trained neophytes (baptized Indians) from other missions helped found this gem situated in the lovely Santa Ynez Valley. With fertile lands Santa Inés became famous for its large herds of cattle and rich crops.  At one point the Mission boasted 13,000 animals.

Troubles started with the earthquake of 1812 that destroyed Mission Santa Inés and many of the other California Missions.  Rebuilding began in 1813 and the new church, constructed with 5-to-6-foot-thick walls and pine beams brought from nearby Figueroa Mountain, was dedicated on July 4, 1817.  Prosperity ensued until the Indian revolt of 1824.  When the fighting was over many of the Indians left to join other tribes in the mountains; only a few Indians remained at the Mission.

In 1834 the missions in California were secularized and most of their land given in land grants as ranchos.  In 1843, California’s Mexican governor Micheltorena granted nearly 35,000 acres of Santa Ynez Valley land, to the College of Our Lady of Refuge, the first seminary in California. Established at the Mission by Francisco García Diego y Moreno, first Bishop of California, the college was abandoned in 1881. By then the Mission buildings were disintegrating.

It was through the efforts of Father Alexander Buckler in 1904 that reconstruction of the Mission was undertaken.  After 20 years of extremely hard work, Father Buckler retired. The Catholic priests of the Order of Franciscan Minors (O.F.M.) were asked to come back to the Mission but declined. Instead, priests from the Capuchin Franciscan Order of the Irish Province took over control of the Mission and continued the process of restoration.  The Capuchin Franciscans redesigned the Mission’s inner garden, you can still see the hedge in the shape of a Celtic cross planted today.

Major restoration was completed in 1947 when the Hearst Foundation donated money to pay for the project. The restoration continues to this day and the Capuchin Franciscan Fathers still take excellent care of this beautiful Mission.

We hope you enjoyed this journey of the Central California Missions with us. We’ve certainly been inspired to visit each of these beautiful Missions and will enjoy them with an added appreciation for the sacrifices of the native Indians of the area and the indomitable fortitude of the early settlers.

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources.  If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them. 

3D rose arbor at Mission Santa Inés, by Bill Heller.

Comments { 0 }

Mission La Purísima Concepción (The Immaculate Conception)

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th).

Mission La Purísima Concepción (The Immaculate Conception)
sbmissionweek2On December 8, 1787, the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Father Fermín Lasuén founded La Misión de La Concepción de la Santísima Virgen María, (The Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin Mary). This was the eleventh of the twenty-one Franciscan Missions of California. Actual construction began in 1788 and was completed in 1791, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. The Mission was then moved to a new site and new buildings were erected 1815-1818. For many years the Mission enjoyed a period of marked prosperity, however many misfortunes befell the Mission and from 1834-1843 the buildings of La Purísima Concepción were abandoned, the lands were granted to Ranchos and by 1934 the Mission was in ruins and only nine of the original 100 or so buildings remained intact.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 as part of the New Deal, pledged to restore the mission if enough land could be provided to convert it into a historic landmark. The Catholic Church and the Union Oil Company donated sufficient land for the CCC to proceed with the restoration. The nine buildings as well as many small structures and the original water system were fully restored and the mission was dedicated on December 7, 1941. Today, La Purísima Concepción is the only example in California of a complete mission complex.

Photo by Bill Heller

Photo by Bill Heller

The mission is now part of the La Purísima Mission State Historic Park, part of the California State Parks system, and along with Mission San Francisco de Solano is one of only two of the Spanish Missions in California that is no longer under the control of the Catholic Church.

The Mission is reportedly haunted by the Indians and Spaniards who died there and was featured on the paranormal reality TV show Ghost Adventures.

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources. If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them.

Comments { 0 }

Mission Santa Barbara

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th).

Mission Santa Barbara

sbmissionweek2Mission 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).

Bill Heller Photography

Bill Heller Photography

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.

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources. If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them.

Comments { 0 }

Mission San Buenaventura

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th).

Mission San Buenaventura
sbmissionweek2Mission San Buenaventura was founded by Father Junípero Serra on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1782, it would be the last of the California Missions that Fr. Serra founded and one of six he personally dedicated. The Mission was intended to be the third Mission, after San Diego and Monterey, and was to be named for Saint Bonaventure “in order that he defend it.” St. Bonaventure, known as Bishop and Doctor of the Church, is regarded for his leadership of the Franciscans of the Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M) as well as his great intellectual contributions to theology and philosophy.

It’s not known what caused the twelve year delay, but it’s been said that troubles at other missions required many guards and military escorts could not be spared. At last, in 1782 a large group of settlers including eight soldiers and their families, arrived at the location of the new Mission; a Chumash Indian town of about 500 inhabitants.

They quickly set about building a chapel, a dwelling and a stockade. Local Indians gladly helped with this work and were paid in beads and other trifles. That said, they were slow to give up their freedom for confinement behind the Mission walls.

Mission_San_BuenaventuraThe first Mission church burned down within 10 years and a new larger one of stone was started in 1792, although half finished in 1795, it was not completed and dedicated until 1809. The violent earthquake of 1812 severely damaged the Mission and it was feared that the Mission itself would be swept into the sea. The Mission survived and was reconstructed in 1816, it was fully restored in 1957 to approximately its original form.

Today, the church functions as a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources. If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them.

Comments { 0 }

Missions of California

Last year, Santa Barbara View presented a series on the History of the City of Santa Barbara, ten major historical periods, according to the general plan – use the top-right bar to search History of the City. Over the next five days, we will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th). They are all just a one day horseback journey away. Go visit them all!
Missions of California Overview
The Spanish missions in California are comprised of twenty one settlements established by Catholic priests of the Order of Franciscan Minors (O.F.M.) between 1769 and 1823. They were part of the first major effort by Europeans, notably Spain, to colonize the Pacific Coast region of California, the most northern and western of Spain’s North American claims.

In 1769, the Portolá expedition, led by Don Gaspar de Portolá and accompanied by a group of Franciscans including Junípero Serra, a member of the Order of Franciscan Minors, was the first land-based exploration by Europeans of California. The expedition established the overland route from San Diego to San Francisco which became known as El Camino Real (The Royal Road). The route was essential to the settlement of coastal California by the Spanish Empire and made it possible for the Franciscan friars to establish the Spanish Missions. The first mission was founded on July 16, 1969 at San Diego, the second a year later, and 650 miles away, at Monterey.

The settlers introduced European fruits, vegetables, cattle, horses, ranching and technology into the region; however, the Spanish colonization also brought with it serious negative consequences to the Native American populations with whom the missionaries and other Spaniards came in contact.

Today, the surviving mission buildings are the state’s oldest structures and the most-visited historic monuments.

Comments { 0 }