Montecito and Santa Barbara, Volume I
Montecito has always evoked considerable comment. In fact, “the mysteries of Montecito” have been the subject of many discussions and articles. Now, for the first time, a carefully researched book is available about the community and its history. Tales about the settlement have been wildly imaginative; even those carefully confirmed provide intriguing reading of this fabled suburb of Santa Barbara.
Montecito was a possible candidate for a Franciscan mission back in 1784. Its hot springs—with alleged curative powers—drew health seekers, and La Parra Grande—the enormous grapevine with romantic origins—was one of Santa Barbara’s early tourist attractions.
The early settlers were Indians, and ex-Presidio soldiers given small parcels of land in lieu of back pay. Next came men from the East Coast who cleared the brush and established citrus ranches. With the passage of time there were fires and floods, but still the population grew and land prices rose. The agriculture was impressive, and the crops suggested colorful gardens to winter residents from the East. By the turn of the 20th century, some large estates had been created by men of great wealth. More luxurious estates would appear in the next few decades.
The climate and beauty of the area supported great hotels and resorts in both Montecito and Santa Barbara, and encouraged new residents to establish churches and country clubs. The Montecito Country Club had three locations and four clubhouses, of which one was destroyed by an unknown arsonist.
Essentially, this volume carries the story of Montecito to 1940, together with tales of some of the estates and their colorful owners. The second volume tells of more estates, schools, and the many that occurred in the next half century. The text is supplemented by photographs and maps, taking the reader back in time.