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Way Back When in Santa Barbara, Mesa Memories, & Movies Way Back When

How to Dig into the History of Your City, Town, or Neighborhood

atlasobscura.com

What's your home's history?

 

If you're working from home and/or spending more time at home these days, you might begin to wonder about the home itself, who else lived there, how long the home has been there, or what your neighborhood was like way back when.

 

The Atlas Obscura website has a new article called "How to Dig into the History of Your City, Town, or Neighborhood." Here's the link - copy and paste:  

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-to-research-hometown-history

 

Happy hunting!

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

Image: Library of Congres

140 Acres for $10,000

 

In April 1873, the Santa Barbara Daily Press announced the sale of 140 acres on the Mesa for $10,000. The buyer, identified as S.R. Weldon, later became an important resident on the Mesa. He had a telescope that was said to be the best one in Southern California. Weldon Road is named for him. (More about his telescope in a future post.) Weldon's property is marked with an X on this 1889 map.

 

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SILENT MOVIES MADE IN MONTECITO

Image: Motion Picture News, July 19, 1919

Our Better Selves

 

Life after death was a theme in some silent movies made in the years after World War I as people tried to cope with the trauma of deaths from the war and the Spanish Flu. Our Better Selves is a 1919 movie about a French husband and wife who are killed by the Germans, and as the movie ends, their souls are seen crossing the river Styx together.

 

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"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY

Image: Motography, April 29, 1916

The Flu Claims a "Flying A" Actor

 

Harold Lockwood had been a leading man, and had appeared in more than a dozen movies produced by the studio here in 1915 and 1916. In October 1918, the 29-year-old actor came down with the "Spanish Flu" while in New York, and died of pneumonia three days later. (Most of the deaths caused by the 1918-1919 flu were among people in the 20-40 age range.)

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

Image: courtesy of John Woodward

Castle Rock in 1872

 

In 1872, Stearns Wharf was newly completed and Santa Barbara was easy to reach by sea. A visitor to Santa Barbara that year described one of the most famous landmarks of Santa Barbara.

 

"The extreme eastern end of this Mesa is called Castle Rock, and around it, the coastline curves to the northeast, forming a little bay. Thus, although Santa Barbara is on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, its outlook to the sea is not to the west, or even to the south, but to the southeast. If we would get a view of the ocean directly to the southwest, we must first climb the Mesa." — Santa Barbara Daily Press, December 28, 1872

 

Castle Rock once stood about where the entrance to the harbor walkway is today. Only the Mission and the Presidio were photographed more often. The rock was demolished in the late 1920s.

 

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SILENT MOVIES MADE IN MONTECITO

Image: Exhibitors Trade Review, December 20, 1922

In the 1922 movie The Voice From the Minaret, Montecito's Bartlett Polo Club was the stand-in for the Bombay Polo Club. The movie starred Norma Talmadge. The polo club is now a private residence.

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"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY

Image: New York Public Library

Monkey Terrorizes Santa Barbara

 

Would you believe King Kong running down De la Vina Street in May 1917? "Monkey at Large" and "Vagrant Monkey" were headlines that we don't often see around here. "A good deal of consternation and something of fear were caused yesterday shortly before noon on De la Vina Street by a monkey at large . . . A frightened woman telephoned the police regarding the wild animal broken loose that was spreading fear among the women and children . . . several frantic women telephoned the police station to call out the reserves . . . a squad of officers hurried to the scene."

 

In the end, the much-feared animal was captured, but not with the usual array of law enforcement weaponry. All it took was – a bag of peanuts. "[The monkey] did not resist arrest at all, and seemed to be perfectly happy in being borne to the city bastille by the kindly officer, and at the station, it was made a great pet of by the members of the force . . . all of whom were tickled with the monkey's good nature and amusing ways. It was found later that the monkey was a pet . . . 'Caruso,' [is] a simian of talent and high degree that had played a 'star part' in the great ['Flying A'] picture, The Diamond from the Sky, made in this city two years ago."

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

Today's post is about nuts on the Mesa.

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SILENT MOVIES MADE IN MONTECITO

Image: Motion Picture World, August 7, 1915

The 1915 movie The Girl From His Town was the story of a rich guy who falls in love with a poor girl, and was filmed at one of the estates in Montecito as well as the local country club.

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"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY

Image: Santa Barbara Morning Press, September 13, 1914

Flu Closes the "Flying A" Studio

 

Just as the threat of the "Spanish flu" was being felt on the streets of Santa Barbara in October 1918, it was also having an effect at the film studio at Mission and Chapala streets.

 

On October 23, the local paper reported, "'Flying A' Shuts Studio for 30 Days . . . Because the government is desirous of having all moving picture studios suspend the distribution of releases for a period of 30 days . . . the American Film Co. decided to suspend operation here for one month."

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