Historic Downtown Hacienda in Santa Barbara

Gonzales-Ramirez Adobe

835 Laguna | Credit: Blake Bronstad

Status: On the Market

Address: 835 Laguna Street

Price: $4,995,000

While walking through the property for sale at 835 Laguna Street, it’s easy to daydream about the almost 200 years of history that this home has experienced. I was doing exactly that as I strolled the length of the covered brick veranda and admired the sun-dappled back courtyard. The thick adobe walls and hand-painted tiles carry the legacy of this masterpiece, conjuring up images of the lively fiestas it must have seen over the years.

Credit: Blake Bronstad

The house was most recently home to a rare book seller, so it’s fitting that I had to turn to a history book to satisfy some of my curiosity about this property. Neal Graffy’s handy Street Names of Santa Barbara notes that the first name given to Santa Barbara was “Laguna de la Conception,” based on a small lake that once existed near the current intersection of Laguna and Ortega Streets. This home is set on over a half-acre of land that would have faced out onto that lake. 

Built in 1825, this house is one of a small number of surviving adobe houses from this period of California’s history. A plaque in the entrance courtyard proclaims that the Gonzales-Ramirez Adobe was “Built in 1825 by Rafael Gonzales later Alcalde of Santa Barbara; owned by his daughter Salume De Ramirez from 1866 to 1923.” 

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Alcalde translates to “mayor,” furthering my daydreams about the functions this home might have hosted at that time. The one-story adobe structure is built in an “L” shape, with a covered entryway running the length of its façade. It has a gabled roof composed of handmade roof tiles. The house’s composition is true adobe, fashioned in extra-thick bricks that are approximately 10″x21″x4″ and laid into ¾″ adobe mortar joints. Walking through the house, the deep windows and doorways show off that legacy craftsmanship.

Credit: Blake Bronstad

Other stunning architectural details include the wooden viga-style ceilings, hand-painted tilework, and the original cobblestones of the grounds.

The back courtyard continues this authentic ambience with a covered porch looking out onto a walled garden with fruit trees and other native plantings, with a romantic central tiled fountain typical of this period.

The original adobe received an addition in 1956 to match its original style. In 1970, it was designated a National Historic Landmark and added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

More recently, the home was renovated with modern comforts such as new appliances, plumbing fixtures, water heaters, and forced air units, while the original architectural integrity was preserved. Although it was originally built as a residence, the property is currently zoned commercial. Uses could vary to include an office space or showroom, art gallery, wine tasting, or other retail. It has enough panache to be reimagined into just about anything; but no matter what the future holds for this lovely estate, its past will continue to shine brightly.

835 Laguna Street is co-listed for sale in Santa Barbara by Marsha Kotlyar Estate Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties and Greg Bartholomew and Liam Murphy of Hayes Commercial Group. Reach Marsha at (805) 565-4014 or marsha@marshakotlyar.com. Reach Greg at (805) 898-4395 or greg@hayescommercial.com. Reach Liam at (805) 898-4385 or liam@hayescommercial.com

Credit: Blake Bronstad

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