Lord Harry’s House on Brinkerhoff

Colorful Character Still Shines

Credit: Betsy J. Green

Address: 519 Brinkerhoff Avenue

An ad in the local paper on October 14, 1886 shows a map of lots for sale on Brinkerhoff Avenue. | Credit: Santa Barbara Morning Press

The home at 519 Brinkerhoff Avenue dates to about 1889 and was first owned by a popular blacksmith nicknamed “Lord Harry.” British-born Harry Hawcroft and his wife, Eliza, owned the house for decades and, according to current owners George and Mary Ann Ogle, who have lived here since 1973, Harry is still here. More about him later. 

Some historic maps online provide clues to the home’s past. An ad in the local paper in 1886 showed a map of lots for sale on Brinkerhoff Avenue. The map shows that lots on the west side of Brinkerhoff were 50 feet wide and 125 feet deep. There were no homes shown. I found this map on the California Digital Newspaper Collection website.

A Major Remodel in the Past

Courtesy: Betsy J. Green

I also looked at the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps online, courtesy of the Gledhill Library at the Santa Barbara Historical Society’s website. By comparing an 1892 map (when this house had a simple square shape) with the 1907 map, showing the house in its current configuration, I could see that the home’s footprint had changed. George mentioned that he had found evidence of a fire in the home, so this may have caused the major change in the exterior. The angled bay windows accenting the front corners of the home are unusual. Perhaps Harry’s heritage influenced the changes in the home.

The house at 519 Brinkerhoff Avenue is a good example of a modest-sized Queen Anne–style home. This ornate style was popular from 1880 to 1910. This house stands out because of the distinctive fish-scale shingles on the front gable with the round cinquefoil (“five leaves”) window. The paint colors are based on an 1885 book of paint samples.

The moniker “Lord Harry” was applied by his fellow citizens because of his British accent and his distinctive attire — unusual for a tradesman. Harry favored white shirts, bow ties, and bowler hats. George told me that he has occasionally found pearl buttons in the yard, which he believes belonged to Harry.

Harry and his wife, Eliza, seem to have arrived in Santa Barbara about 1886. In that year, Harry won a prize at the Santa Barbara County Fair for “polished steel horseshoes,” and Eliza was judged “most graceful rider.”

In 1898, Harry “Lord Harry” Hawcroft’s blacksmith shop at 20 West Cota Street was featured on the front page of New York’s The Blacksmith & Wheelwright. | Credit: Courtesy

Harry worked as a blacksmith at several locations near the home. His shop was nearby at 20 West Cota Street in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There were several mentions of him in local papers and outside the area. In 1888, an article mentioned Harry constructing four large buoys for the Stearns Wharf Company. Another article in 1889 wrote of him manufacturing large bolts for the roof of a church. In 1898, Harry’s blacksmith shop was featured on the front page of The Blacksmith & Wheelwright, a New York trade publication. 

In 1912, as cars began to replace horses, Harry bought Hunt Son & Schuster’s and began making tools and automobile springs. In 1915, he sold his company to the Hendry brothers, who moved the business to the corner of Cota and Fig streets. The façade of that building is still in place.

Harry’s wife, Eliza, died in 1900, and for several decades after that, Harry lived in the building on the De la Vina side of the property and rented the 519 Brinkerhoff house. One of the renters was a chauffeur named Edgar W. Adams. George shared a fabulous photo of Adams driving a 1907 “Pierce Great Arrow” in front of the home. This high-end vehicle cost more than $5,000 — at a time when the average worker earned less than $1,000 a year.

Edgar W. Adams at the wheel of a Pierce Great Arrow in front of the home. | Courtesy of George Ogle

Lord Harry Returns, or Never Left

Harry left this world in 1932, but George Ogle isn’t so sure that he left for good. When a neighbor was housesitting in the home, an apparition resembling a man in a tuxedo was seen inside the home. It was presumed to be Harry. And when George was installing some paneling inside the home, he left for a while, and when he returned, more paneling had been installed in his absence. So, Lord Harry is a helpful ghost — that’s handy!

Please do not disturb the residents of 519 Brinkerhoff Avenue.

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author of Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood, Santa Monica Press, 2002. Her website is betsyjgreen.com.

Login

Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.