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Courtesy Photo

Make Myself at Home: Mission Canyon Farmhouse Steeped in History

Take a Look Inside This Mission Canyon Farmhouse Compound


There is a long row of purple salvia in front of my neighbor’s house. Recently, the hummingbirds have been abundantly buzzing around it, three or four at a time. They are really amazing to watch. This morning, I stared at one and he stared back. When he tilted his head just a tad, his black feathers changed into a rainbow of brilliant colors gleaming in the sunshine. I love watching the hummingbirds, and I go out of my way to admire them, but that is about the extent of my bird-watching habit.

“Los Colibrís” means “The Hummingbirds” in Spanish, and that’s the name of the beautiful property for sale at 2708 Puesta del Sol. This estate consists of a charming two-story main residence plus four other structures of various styles and sizes, all sitting on almost an acre of land in Mission Canyon’s Glendessary neighborhood.

The property was once owned by William Leon Dawson, an ornithologist who specialized in oology, the study of birds’ eggs. In about 1914, Dawson built two buildings on his property to further his studies and house his large collection of eggs. Known as the Museum of Comparative Oology, the museum broadened its scope after only a few years and moved down the street to become the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

On the day that I visited, birds were certainly singing, and dappled sunlight shone through the branches of the huge oak trees as I walked up the pebbled pathway towards the house. A short set of stairs set on a diagonal corner invited me up onto the covered porch running the length of the house. White wood siding, double-high casement windows, and the jutting angles of the second-story roofline all hint at the home’s pre-turn-of-the-century pedigree. Devoid of any frilly Victorian-era details, it exudes instead a more utilitarian air and a friendly, farmhouse feel.

Through a covered front entry with exposed wood beams sit the living and dining rooms, connected by an oversized doorway and pass-through shelves. A fireplace graces the corner of the light-filled dining room, which boasts period details such as wainscoting, crown molding, and its original pendant light fixture.

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Through the dining room lies the kitchen, with green-tile countertop, glass-fronted cabinets, and a pantry. A laundry room, a half bath, and a separate storage room are behind the kitchen, as is another entry off the side of the house that looks like it might have been the front entrance at some point in the past.

A grand hardwood staircase leads upstairs to the second story, which comprises all four bedrooms plus a bath. Two of the bedrooms are connected by a sun porch, and a balcony runs along three sides of this second floor. Tall windows in each of the bedrooms let in the sunlight and frame the gorgeous mountain views.

The house contains an attached studio unit, which was added in 1913 to provide a separate flat for Dawson’s mother. It was about this same time that the other buildings on the property were built.

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These buildings are arranged around a circular driveway with a ringed garden in the center. The largest is a yellow stucco building that housed the original museum. It features an original vaulted wood ceiling and brick fireplace, plus many other charming details. It now has a staircase up to a loft bedroom, plus a dining room, kitchen, and bath. Connected to the “museum house” by a shared laundry room is an adorable cottage. Its living room, kitchen, bath, and bedroom are supplemented by a covered porch and a raised wooden deck. This sunny space is one of the cutest little houses I’ve ever seen.

A converted garage and shed compose the other two buildings on the property. Each has its own setup and appeal. All of these separate spaces are connected by landscaping and outdoor seating areas. The whole property is peaceful and private and enjoys the views of the oak trees nearby and gorgeous mountain views in the distance.

While I didn’t notice any hummingbirds on the day that I visited Los Colibris, birdhouses hang in the trees, perhaps channeling Dawson’s ornithological discoveries and teachings. I’ll continue to go out of my way to admire the hummingbirds in my neighborhood, and I’ll be interested to hear about who moves in to charming Los Colibris to continue its history.

2708 Puesta del Sol is currently on the market in Santa Barbara, listed by Kelly Knight of Village Properties Realtors. Reach Kelly at (805) 895-4406 or kellyknightsb@gmail.com. For more details on this property, visit 2708puestadelsol.com.



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