Fabled Gables: 901 Bath Street

This is one of the few Santa Barbara homes to maintain the French Second Empire style.

901 Bath Street

Original Owner: C.C. Rynerson

Years Built: 1880-1885

Architect: Unknown

In 1868, the block of property that’s bordered by today’s Bath, Carrillo, Castillo, and Canon Perdido streets was purchased by investor W.H. Norway from a Native American Indian woman who had acquired it earlier from a laborer named Pedro Massini. A year later, in 1869, one half of the block was subdivided and sold to C.C. Rynerson, who was the former sheriff of San Joaquin County. By the early 1880s, the county assessment books listed the valuation of his buildings and improvements for the entire half-parcel at $1,000.

This home was built around that time in the Queen Anne style, which became popular in the United States in the late 1800s and was just one of a number of styles to emerge during the Victorian era. The Queen Anne was introduced to America at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, where the British government displayed several residences in this architectural motif. From that introduction, a more American style slowly emerged, and by the 1880s, the Queen Anne became very popular in Santa Barbara during one of the city’s early building booms.

Distinctive characteristics include asymmetrical front façades, overhanging eaves, bay windows, wooden or slate roofs, expansive porches with decorative wood trim, and circular or polygonal towers. Of all the surviving Queen Annes in Santa Barbara, this is only one of a few to have an octagonal tower rising from the corner bay window. Also distinguishing is the Revival entrance, which features Corinthium columns used to support the pediment, which is the decorative triangle that adorns the front porch.

In 1905, J.P. Hoye, yardmaster of the Southern Pacific Railway, occupied the house. Since that time, at least six different families have owned the home, which was recently restored by its current owners. Online real estate websites estimate the home’s value at nearly $1.3 million.


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