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.
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 – the Arlington Hotel boasted of a fireplace in every room.
On this date in Santa Barbara history… the palatial old Arlington Hotel was destroyed by fire, and the cause of the blaze still remains a mystery.