Open letter to Historic Landmark Advisory Commission”
I am writing to support nomination of Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos as an historic landmark. I had assumed that a site as historically significant as Mattei’s had long ago received this designation. The Native Sons of the Golden West, Santa Barbara Parlor 116, did designate Mattei’s Tavern an historical monument in 1963. The Los Angeles Times, in Felix Mattei’s 12/9/1930 obituary, said, “Mattei’s tavern was a noted inn for all Californians.”
Mattei’s Tavern, built by Felix Mattei in 1886, was important in early stagecoach, railroad, and automobile history as the place where, in 1887 to 1901, the narrow gauge railroad (which continued its Los Olivos run till 1933) from the north met the stage-coach from the south for anyone traveling up or down the California coast; and as the place where, in the great 1908 New York to Paris automobile race, Italians in their “Zust” stopped off on their way to Paris.
Shortly after that race, when autos were becoming a more common form of transportation, Mattei’s, well known for its fine food and hospitality, was listed as the 4th highest recommended destination by the Auto Club, and was regularly visited by many celebrities, including the 1930 initial visit that preceded the annual “Los Rancheros Vistadores” rides. Possibly the last regularly scheduled stagecoach in the continental United States, Mattei’s own stage service to Gaviota had ended in 1911.
I worked for two years as assistant curator of the Santa Cruz County Historical Museum and saw what happens to a community’s history without landmarking—and sometimes even with landmark status. I also worked for several years in two landmarked buildings (and lived in a less fortunate 1871 house), and consider it an honor that I was able to answer questions for the many tourists who came through, fascinated by local history. I feel lucky to have lived over 25 years in the Santa Ynez Valley, where our history is still visible. Please give Mattei’s Tavern the respect it deserves, for the sake of that history, with an historical landmark designation. –Teresa McNeil MacLean, Santa Ynez