For the record, Charlie Chaplin had absolutely nothing to do with building or founding the Montecito Inn. Nothing! Two Independent columnists in recent weeks have simply repeated, through no fault of their own, the myth the hotel owners and staff have been perpetuating for years.
I believe they myth was possibly started by former owners and Montecito residents Don B. Sebastian and William S. Seamans, who formed the Montecito Company to build the Montecito Inn hotel. Ground was broken in August 1927, and it was ready for guests on February 18, 1928. Fifty-four-year-old Charlie Chaplin possibly stayed at the hotel when he and 18-year-old Oona O’Neill eloped to Santa Barbara, where they got a marriage license at the courthouse and were married at a judge’s home in Carpinteria (now Roxanne’s quilting store on Maple Avenue).
The Montecito History Committee has this information, and the late David Myrick wrote the definitive early history of Montecito in his two volumes of Montecito and Santa Barbara. Volume I, “From Farms to Estates,” contains the story of the building of the Montecito Inn.
Santa Barbara has a rich history with no need for “made-up” stories.
Judy Pearce is a local historian who grew up a stone’s throw from the Montecito Inn after her family moved to Montecito from Goleta in 1898.