Make Myself at Home: The Victorian Rose

Take a Look Inside 319 West Ortega Street, a Stunning Downtown Victorian

Address: 319 West Ortega Street

Status: On the market

Price: $1,595,000

Known as the Victorian Rose, 319 West Ortega Street is a chameleon of a house, showcasing all of the most charming features of its highly renowned era in a modern converted configuration. It oozes the character of yesteryear, yet it can pass for a trio of practical apartments with the best of today’s requisite amenities.

The beauty of this lovely lady is evident long before one steps foot in the house. Even the view from the street is regal. The house sits up above the street, so one is obligated to gaze up at the home’s façade, taking in its asymmetrical rooflines and fanciful shape. The Victorian Rose is a two-story manse, wider than it is tall, with one wing on the left side turned at a 45-degree angle, creating a contrasting shape and pointy cap of a rooftop. The covered front porch sports curlicue gingerbread trim all around its eaves and an embellished decorative railing. A beautiful carved frontispiece on the highest peak of the roofline is the apex of this meticulous exterior detailing, heralding the beauty within for those who are fortunate enough to be invited up to cross its threshold.

A Santa Barbara sandstone wall curves gently toward a short flight of steps that provide a wide entrance up to the front yard. The stairs give way to a flagstone path that leads past clumps of roses, plantings, trees, and bushes around either side of the house. This garden is both relaxed and intentional at the same time. It feels like a space for strolling and thinking rather than a gathering place. It provides a buffer from the rest of the world to the rarified house itself.

The Victorian Rose has been divided into three one-bedroom apartments. The main house is simply split into the first and second floor as two separate flats. The bottom level has beautiful dark hardwood flooring, a large, light-filled living room in the front of the house, one bedroom and one and a half baths. This unit is able to enjoy the front porch and the original front door, as well as multicolored, multipaned stained glass in both the door and several of the windows. The biggest benefit of the downstairs is the fully updated and upgraded kitchen. Its appliances, countertops, cabinetry, and amenities are all top-notch.

While the upstairs apartment is a touch more modest, what it lacks in luxury, it more than makes up for with its views. The top flat is accessed by a staircase on the side of the house, providing privacy and separation. The main room is a combination kitchen, living room, and breakfast nook spanning most of the lofty space. This great room enjoys expansive views of the mountains from both the front and side, and it even has a small patio with a big view on the back of the house. Its most charming feature is the beautiful, original claw-foot tub in its sparkling bathroom. The bedroom, along with every room throughout, has large, almost floor-to-ceiling windows to let the sunlight stream in.

Around the back is the third apartment, which is really more its own separate house. It is cozy, with a compact living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bath. It has much of the character of the main house, and its quiet seclusion gives it the feel of a cottage in the middle of the woods, or really anywhere at all. There is a large carport and parking area in the back, as well as a storage shed, not quite big enough to house a car, but perfect for bikes, surfboards, and more. With the home’s downtown location, just about everything anyone could need is in biking or walking distance anyway, so who needs a car?

The Victorian Rose, with its three separate, desirable one-bedroom apartments, is perfect for a buyer looking for an income property. On the other hand, if a new owner wanted one grand residence, this home could easily be restored as such. This painted lady almost feels as if she wants to go back to her former glory days. She has been treated well, has been prettily polished, and has a long and storied past. Her bones are strong, and so is her character. I have no doubt that she can take whatever the future holds, with her head held high.

319 West Ortega Street is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Susan Jordano of Village Properties Realtors. Reach Susan at 680-9060 or


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