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Pearl Chase’s Legacy

Annual Historic Homes Tour

by Michael Redmon

The Pearl Chase Society presents its 8th Annual Historic Homes
Tour on Sunday, May 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year the
society will showcase five homes in Montecito’s Hedgerow
neighborhood, offering an intriguing mix of architectural
styles.

The society is named after Pearl Chase (pictured), one of the
major figures in social service and community activism on the South
Coast. Born in Boston in 1888, she moved with her family to Santa
Barbara in 1900. Pearl demonstrated a drive and intelligence early
on; she graduated from Santa Barbara High School at age 14. A year
later she matriculated at UC Berkeley.

She returned to Santa Barbara in 1909 a summa cum laude graduate
and turned her considerable talents to bettering her community. Her
early efforts concentrated on issues of public health and food
quality, spearheading a drive to close down an unhealthful
slaughterhouse, improving sanitation at local dairies, and
cofounding the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

In the early 1920s, she began focusing on civic beautification.
She was a major figure in the Plans and Planting branch of the
Community Arts Association that for decades was at the center of
issues of architectural design, building regulations, conservation,
and historic preservation. One of her typical campaigns was a
multiyear fight to keep billboards away from Santa Barbara’s
roadways.

South Coast history was a passion for her. For 40 years she sat
on the advisory committee to restore and operate Mission La
Purísima as a historic site. In 1962 she became the first vice
president of the newly formed Santa Barbara Trust for Historic
Preservation, which oversaw the reconstruction of Santa Barbara’s
Royal Presidio. She knew everybody and knew how to get things done.
When she died in 1979 she left behind a legacy of activism in the
service of civic betterment.

The Pearl Chase Society, a nonprofit organization, was founded
in 1995 and focuses on historic preservation and conservation. In
addition to the annual Historic Homes Tours, the society conducts
educational programs, sponsors cultural heritage activities, and is
engaged in an ongoing photo documentation of the city’s
landscape.

The Hedgerow neighborhood, the location of this year’s tour, is
in the lower portion of Montecito and roughly runs from San Ysidro
Road eastward to just beyond Pomar Lane. The oldest home on the
tour is the charming Craftsman, El Contento, built around 1905. It
sits on a portion of what was once the Hixon farm, typical of the
farms that once dotted the Montecito landscape in the late
1800s.

Boscobel (“In the Midst of Beautiful Woods”) was built in about
1917 by F. M. Edwards. This Mediterranean home with Federal
architectural touches cohosted the Garden Club of America in 1926,
which in turn sparked a tradition of tours by the local Garden
Club.

The aptly named Andalusia, a Spanish colonial revival gem, was
built in the early 1920s for Mary P. Drummond. She engaged Santa
Barbara’s most prominent architect, George Washington Smith, to
design the home. The day she came to call on Smith, however, he was
out of the office and an unsuspecting assistant sold her designs
that Smith had meant for his own home. The assistant, Sidney Stacy,
completed the commission and then was promptly sacked.

The ranch-style home built by Andrew McDonough dates from 1939.
A rental for much of its life, the house today has been transformed
into a charming artist’s home and studio, filled with art pieces
and adorned with wrought iron, mullioned glass, and tile.

In 1922, Frederick L. Baxter engaged the notable firm of Soule,
Murphy, and Hastings to design a home reminiscent of a country
manor in Brittany. The firm’s design for Le Petit Manoir was
honored with first prize in the 1923 Southern California Institute
of Architects and garnered a feature in House and Garden magazine
the next year. The gardens bear the unmistakable influence of local
landscape architect Elizabeth de Forest.

Tickets for the Home Tour are $50, or $45 for society members
and are available by mail: Pearl Chase Society, P.O. Box 5081,
Santa Barbara, CA, 93150-5081. Information is available at
961-3938. A limited number of patron tickets are also available for
$150. These include a champagne brunch and tour at the historic
Masini Adobe, one of the oldest two-story adobes in California. For
patron tickets, call 682-4415.

Michael Redmon, director of research at the Santa Barbara
Historical Society, will answer your questions about Santa
Barbara’s history. Write him c/o The Independent, 122 West Figueroa
St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

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