A Santa Barbara house with a panoramic view

Address: 941 Garcia Road

Credit: Betsy J. Green

Santa Barbara experienced a construction boom in the 1920s, like many other American cities. World War I and the Spanish flu epidemic were behind us, and automobiles provided easy access to neighborhoods beyond the streetcar lines. This was probably the case for this house and others on Garcia Road, near the intersection of Milpas and Anapamu streets.

More cars on the roads also meant that more roads were built as the city limits expanded. In the 1920s, Garcia Road was created to connect Milpas to King Albert Boulevard. What is that? You don’t know King Albert Boulevard? Well, that was the name of the street at the top of Garcia Road a century ago. King Albert Boulevard was later renamed Camino Rey Alberto. (It was basically King Albert Boulevard with a Spanish accent.) Hmm. This street name is not familiar either?

Well, I’m sure all the Santa Barbara historians (us five?) are kidding because we know that King Albert Boulevard, aka Camino Rey Alberto, are the old names for the lower portion of what is now the Alameda Padre Serra Route. (King Albert of Belgium and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, visited Santa Barbara in October 1919 as part of a goodwill tour to thank the United States for its support during World War I.) King Albert died in 1934, and the following year his name was no longer on the road here. Never mind.

Who was Garcia?

Credit: Betsy J. Green

And speaking of names, I didn’t know the origin of Garcia Road’s name, so I contacted historian Neal Graffy, one of the aforementioned five (?) historians. He told me that this road is named after Fr. Francisco García Diego y Moreno, the first bishop of California. (Bishop García Diego High School in Santa Barbara is also named after him.) He is buried at the Santa Barbara Mission.

In the early 1920s, eight houses were built on Garcia Road, which winds up the hill. Some homes have stunning city and ocean views, such as the view from the home at 941 Garcia Road. This house is on a large lot with an old Brazilian pepper tree in the back yard and a garage with a small stable in the back. The horse is believed to have belonged to original owners Richard W. Herberts and his wife, Helen. Herberts was director of the Western Wholesale Produce Company.

The Roaring Twenties

Credit: Betsy J. Green

It’s a quiet neighborhood now, but that wasn’t so in the 1920s during Prohibition, when Santa Barbara police noticed unusual activity. A resident of another house on this street claimed to be in the real estate business. But, as the local newspaper wrote, “Suspicion was aroused by what at first glance appeared to be an incredible housing boom, as indicated by the number of callers to…house…. What police described as a bar, provided… more than 20 bottles believed to contain gin, apricot brandy, cognac, elderberry wine and other varieties. Apparently the court officers did not appreciate the owner’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Credit: Betsy J. Green

There are many Spanish Colonial Revival homes in Santa Barbara, but Dutch Colonial Revival homes, like this one, are in the minority. These houses get their name from the fact that they were inspired by the houses built by the first Dutch settlers in New Jersey and New York. Dutch neo-colonial houses are distinguished by a mansard roof, a gable roof. These houses were most popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

In addition to the views from the windows of the house, there are some lovely paintings in one of the bedrooms. Pastel depictions of animals that look like they came out of the pages of a Beatrix Potter children’s story dance across the walls.

Current owners, Dave and Cynthy Ardell, love the stunning views from their home. They told me they like to get up early and have coffee in the living room. The backyard is also a great place to watch the 4th of July fireworks.

Please do not disturb the residents of 941 Garcia Road.

Credit: Betsy J. Green

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