Upper Mesa Home with a Moving History

Storied Past in Multiple Locations

Credit: Betsy J. Green

Address: 902 Fellowship Road

This month’s home is located on the Mesa on Fellowship Road, a street named for the Utopian commune that was in this area in the early 1920s. I wrote more about this group in my September 2020 column. Check my archives online. But the history of this home began about a mile away.

The Home’s First Location

This home was built at 525 West Victoria Street about 1920 by architect William Fairbairn Poole, who lived in the house for several decades. Poole worked with Francis T. Wilson, who designed our train station, and he designed several buildings downtown, as well as some of the larger homes in the area.

Poole was born in Scotland in 1882 and moved to Santa Barbara with his family in 1890. His father, Peter Poole, was a well-known stonemason here. Among his many projects is the bridge that still stands on Las Canoas Road over Rattlesnake Creek.

In 1908, William Poole married Rose Pendola, a direct descendant of Captain José Francisco Ortega, a member of the 1769 Portolá expedition, and Teodoro Arellanes, the owner of Rancho El Rincon. Poole and his wife formed the Poole-Verhelle Dance Group in 1924 and produced the first Fiesta courthouse dance show. Perhaps Poole built a large living room in this house to provide space for dance rehearsals.

The dance tradition continues as the annual Las Noches de Ronda during Old Spanish Days Fiesta. This year, Las Noches de Ronda will be held Thursday-Saturday, August 4-6, at the Sunken Gardens, Santa Barbara County Courthouse from 8-10 p.m.

The Home’s Second Location

In 1971, just a few months after Poole died, his house was picked up and moved to its present location at 902 Fellowship Road on the Mesa. According to the house-moving permit, Santa Barbara resident Jack DeWitt paid for the house to be moved, although he apparently did not live in the home.

The Craftsman-style home has been modified over the decades, but the original “H” shape is still apparent in the cozy entrance porch, and the eaves are ornamented by decorative wooden braces. Interior features that appear to be original include wainscoting topped by a plate rail in the living room and dining room.

The home’s present owners, George and Joanne Singer, have lived here since 1995, so they obviously love the home. They especially like that it’s not a tract house and that it has good bones. The open plan and high ceilings topped with skylights give this small home a spacious feel.

Mapping the Locations

928 aerial map of 525 W. Victoria Street | Credit: UCSB aerial map

Sometimes the history of a house leads to the history of the neighborhood. This home’s original location was 525 West Victoria Street. This is presently a short block sandwiched between Highway 101 and Bohnett Park and is only accessible from San Pascual Street.

When the house was built, however, West Victoria Street stretched westward from State Street across Rancheria Street, which is now covered by the freeway. Victoria Street then stopped about where it ends now at San Pascual Street because a portion of Mission Creek between Micheltorena and Carrillo streets used to run along the west side of San Pascual. The creek has since been straightened and now runs along the city side of the freeway.

If you’re curious about how Santa Barbara looked in decades past, try searching for aerial maps online: “UCSB aerial photography.” Or see tinyurl.com/ucsbframefinder.

It takes a bit of noodling around to figure out the aerial maps, but the maps that I looked at for the Westside of Santa Barbara date back to 1928. I was able to find an aerial map of West Victoria Street from 1928 that showed this home at its original location.

Here’s another house history tip: If you like old houses and old buildings, there is a very interesting and colorful map created by the City of Santa Barbara that shows the location of older structures with colors. Search for “Santa Barbara structure age map” online or type tinyurl.com/sbstructureagemap. The map for the Fellowship area shows that the 902 Fellowship Road home is older than its neighbors.

Please do not disturb the residents of 902 Fellowship Road.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.

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