Fabled Gables: 309 West Arrellaga Street

Rare Example of Second French Empire Architecture

Original owner: James A. Barker

Year built: 1875

Architect: Unknown

This L-shaped home is a rarity for Santa Barbara, one of only a handful of residences that remain from the late 1800s designed with the distinguished French-inspired roofline known as Second Empire, also referred to as a Swedish gambrel design. The roofline’s high point runs in both east-to-west and north-to-south configurations and has an upper slope that protrudes outward in shallow context from the center point. Other notable ornamentations include carved wood bargeboards, bay windows, dentils, and filigree porch brackets.

In 1858, the land was registered to Bartista Pendola. By 1870, James A. Barker took ownership and quickly made steep investments into land improvements. Between 1872 and 1884, land values for both his and neighboring properties substantially increased.

The home was constructed in 1875 for Barker and his family. Subsequent owners were Joseph A. Kenny, an 1880s Santa Barbara “capitalist” and Isaac R. True, another known capitalist who bought the home in 1903. Members of the True family maintained the property until 1955, at which time a small apartment building was constructed in the back part of the lot.


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