I’ve been standing in the same spot for more than 100 years, at the corner of Garden and Mission streets in Santa Barbara. People have written about me, admired me, and taken thousands of pictures of me. They’ve dressed me up, they’ve kissed me for good luck, and they’ve written hundreds of letters to me. They’ve made up lots of different stories about me and my history: some that are close to the truth, others that are fabricated and quite fanciful. But no one has ever asked me to tell my own story. Until now. So here goes.
My name is Rover, and I live at 2010 Garden Street. Well, I live on the lawn in front of 2010 Garden Street to be exact. I’ve had several families over the years, but I’ve only had one home. I’ve been paying attention all these years, so I can tell you all about my house and its history.
My house was built in 1894 by a man named William H. Crocker. He built five houses in a row, all along Garden Street, on land that was previously part of the olive orchard at the Old Mission Santa Barbara. Mr. Crocker was influential in the early days of California — helping to bring the railroad here and to define the architectural styles of the time. He hired an architect named Arthur Page Brown, who designed the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the California Building at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, to build these five houses in what was to be called the Mission Revival style. They were the first lath and stucco homes in the Santa Barbara area. My house served as Mr. Crocker’s vacation home when he was in Santa Barbara. He sold it 10 years later to my original family, the Willets. They moved here from Michigan in 1904 and brought me with them.
The exterior of my house includes a handsome, column-lined patio across the front and around the side, plus a second story with gorgeous signature windows across the façade and up top in the attic. There’s a red-tile roof that I’m told is replicated an infinite number of times throughout the city, and even though I haven’t seen horses ride by in years, we still have the hitching posts out front as part of the decorative wall around the house.
In the backyard, even though I can’t quite see it, I know there’s a pool. Judging by the number of people who come to play in it, and the amount of noise they make splashing and laughing, it’s gotta be a big one.
You might think my knowledge of the house is limited to the exterior. But like I said, I’ve been paying attention. Inside, I’m told that there are two staircases: a grand one in the front living area and a smaller one in the back that leads up from the kitchen to the bedrooms and even keeps going all the way up to the attic.
There are four bedrooms, and at least six bathrooms, including a special one off the master suite that has one of the biggest, coolest showers some of the humans have ever seen. They also like to comment on the fireplaces. Even though it’s pretty warm here in Santa Barbara most of the time, my house has six different fireplaces, including two in the master bedroom suite. One of my little girls said that her favorite part of the house was her bedroom because it has a circular window seat with special curved benches built to fit because her room was built into a tower. She said that the bench seats lift up to reveal hiding places underneath. She told me about it because she wished she could hide me up there in her room so I could protect her while she sleeps.
I know that my most recent owners have spent lots of time and love fixing up the house. I’ve heard them talk about things like radiant heating, water and electrical systems, new marble in the kitchen, and refinished hardwood floors. It sounds as though they’ve taken meticulous care of the original parts and then added on new details in the same style. The house is elegant but not too fancy. I’ve seen the humans come and go here, and they all love the house and love its history.
They love me so much that they dress me up for every different holiday. They even protected my muzzle with a mask when the ash from the fire made it hard to breathe. They fixed my tail when it broke off from kids riding on my back, and they rescued me when I got kidnapped and ended up on the principal’s desk at Santa Barbara High School.
Now my house is for sale again. That hasn’t happened very many times in the 114 years that I’ve been standing guard. Every time it has, the humans who move in take very good care of my house and me, and I take care of them. I’m sure the next family who adopts me — and my famous house — will live here happily ever after.
2010 Garden Street is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Colleen Beall of Compass. Reach Colleen at 895-5881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.