Address: 941 Garcia Road
Santa Barbara experienced a building boom in the 1920s, like many other U.S. cities. World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic were behind us, and automobiles were allowing easy access to neighborhoods beyond the streetcar lines. Such was probably the case for this home and others on Garcia Road, near the intersection of Milpas and Anapamu streets.
More cars on the roads also meant that more roads were being built as the city limits expanded. In the 1920s, Garcia Road was created to connect Milpas up to King Albert Boulevard. What’s that? You don’t know about King Albert Boulevard? Well, that was the name of the street at the top of Garcia Road a century ago. King Albert Boulevard was later renamed Camino Rey Alberto. (This was basically King Albert Boulevard with a Spanish accent.) Hmm. That street name’s not familiar either?
Well, I’m sure all the Santa Barbara historians (all five of us?) are chuckling at this because we know that King Albert Boulevard, a k a Camino Rey Alberto, are the old names for the lower part of present-day Alameda Padre Serra Road. (King Albert of Belgium and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, visited Santa Barbara in October 1919 as part of a goodwill tour to thank the U.S. for its support during WWI.) King Albert died in 1934, and the next year, his name was no longer on the road here. Oh well.
Who Was Garcia?
And speaking of names, I did not know about the origin of the name of Garcia Road, so I reached out to historian Neal Graffy, one of the five (?) aforementioned historians. He told me that this road is named for Fr. Francisco García Diego y Moreno, the first Bishop of California. (Bishop García Diego High School in Santa Barbara is named for him as well.) He is buried at the Santa Barbara Mission.
In the early 1920s, eight houses were built on Garcia Road, as it meanders up the hill. Some of the homes have sweeping views of the city and the ocean, such as the view from the home at 941 Garcia Road. This home is on a large lot with an ancient Brazilian pepper tree in the backyard, and a garage with a small horse stable at the back. The horse might have belonged to the first owners Richard W. Herberts and his wife, Helen. Herberts was a director of the Western Wholesale Produce Company.
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The Roaring Twenties
This is a quiet neighborhood now, but such was not the case in the 1920s during Prohibition, when Santa Barbara police officers noticed some unusual activity. A resident in another house on this street claimed to be in the real estate business. But, as the local paper wrote, “Suspicions were aroused by what at first appeared to be an amazing boom in real estate, as indicated by the number of callers at the … house …. What police officers described as a bar, provided … more than a score of bottles purporting to contain gin, apricot brandy, cognac, elderberry wine and other varieties.” Apparently, the officers of the law did not appreciate the owner’s entrepreneurial spirit.
There are many Spanish Colonial Revival homes in Santa Barbara, but Dutch Colonial Revival homes, such as this one, are in the minority. These homes get their name because they were inspired by homes built by the early Dutch settlers in New Jersey and New York. Dutch Colonial Revival homes are distinguished by a gambrel roof, a roof that has two slopes. These homes were most popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
In addition to the views from the home’s windows, there are some charming paintings in one of the bedrooms. Pastel depictions of animals that look like they stepped from the pages of a Beatrix Potter children’s story dance on the walls.
The present owners, Dave and Cynthy Ardell, love the expansive view from their home. They told me they like to get up early and have coffee in the living room. The backyard is also a grand place to watch the July 4 fireworks.
Please do not disturb the residents of 941 Garcia Road.