The Santa Barbara Home Planning Co, located at 336 San Marcos Building on State Street, advised home builders to “Build well and be satisfied.”

Their publication, Distinctive Homes – California Number, published in 1923, dedicated its first issue to sixty home plans specifically suited for Santa Barbara County and its temperate climate.

Suggestions are provided as how best to select a lot, what to consider when estimating building costs, and some of the special features of each plan. Advertisements for building and home loan providers, contractors, building materials and other supplies are found in the final pages of the book.

Home Plan No. 81 – A Small Home

This little house incorporates many elements found only in a large home. The book cases on the sides of the fire place, the buffet in the dining room and the cool closet in the kitchen are some.of the special features. Off from the dining room is the breakfast room which also makes a very attractive sun room.


Home Plan No. 142 – Larger Home

This rambling home has been designed for Southern climates and therefore takes advantage of exterior views and sunshine. The front porch affords a shady spoot greatly desired in any home, while for afternoon teas the terrace back of the living room has an ideal location.

This hous has a fully equipped buther’s pantry, a large kitchen with a dining nook for servants, two maids rooms with bath, and a complete laundry room.

Three master bed rooms are connected by a hall and have spacious closets.



One of the important industries of Santa Barbara county is the great seed farm of the W. Atlee Burpee Company, one of the most successful and widely known, as well as one of the oldest, seed companies in this country, having its chief offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Santa Barbara County Farm, which is located on Floradale Avenue, two and a half miles west of Lompoc, is devoted almost entirely to producing flower seeds….

So large is the sweet pea crop that the peas are harvested like wheat. With the exception of the special, late, and early new varitities, they are cut with a reaper and are threshed in a specially constructed thresher. The new varieties are all picked by hand, for every seed of every new variety is valuable, selling six for twenty-five cents and upwards. Since all the new sweet pea varieites put out by this firm are grown on the Lompoc farm, where many of them are originated, the industry gains unusual importance. Altogether the firm grows and markets seeds for two hundred varieties of sweet peas, all of them grown here.

~History of Santa Barbara County, 1927 (pg 137)


Zvolanek’s Florists’ and Private Gardeners’ List of Sweet Pea Seed – June 1926 – June 1927

Mr. Zvolanek had many interesting bits of new to relate regarding the seed growing industry in his district, which he says is 160 miles or more north of Los Angeles, and has a cold climate. The area under Sweet Peas in the Lompoc neighborhood is vast, Burpee and other well-known firms having large tracts under cultivation.

When one hears of soil so good and so deep that crops require no manure or fertilizer whatever, and, despite the fact that for six months or so not a wet day hinders work, the root run remains beautifully moist, he begins to understand how it is that the California Seed Growers can own and work such large farms and produce seeds on such a huge scale.

~ Horticulture, v.32 (1920) pg 320 – image 404


Santa Maria Valley 

Dining Room – Santa Maria Inn 

Santa Maria Valley completed the year with organizing for a $4,000,000 irrigation system for the purpose of placing under cultivation fruit orchards of 100,000 acres, no given over to grain ands small white-bean growing. The city of Santa Maria is the center of this activitiy. A survey by the State Engineering Department shows that sufficient water can be impounded by building a dam across Sisquoc River, avobe the valley, to place irrigation water on all the rich farmlands of the valley.

The city has had marked growth during the year. Street paving, business-block construction and the building of schools and churches have been a marked feature of the city’s growth. A strong Chamber of Commerce and Santa Maria Valley Business Men’s Association have co-operated in forwarding the plans for civic progress. Bean growers, the grain farmers and stock men have had a prosperous year. In Santa Maria Valley are the towns of Santa Maria, Orcutt, Casmalia, Betteravia, Sisquoc and Guadalupe. Santa Maria city this year completed a water plant doubling its supply for domestic purposes.

Guadalupe has been notable during the year for the large increase of its vegetable-growing activity. Summer and fall lettuce and fall tomatoes have been found to develop to superior size and flavor, and several carloads a day have been shipped to all pars of the country every day of the long harvest season. Cauliflower for the late winter season and spring brings on renewed activities. Land values have doubled in the Guadalupe section during the year.

~ LA Times, January 1, 1925 (article edited for clarity)

In addition to farming, the valley was home to dairy farms, the Rosemary Farms chicken ranch, cattle ranches, oil wells and oil production. Tens of thousands of acres were devoted to growing sugar beets that were processed at the Union Sugar plant in the small town of Betteravia.

By the 1920s, the Santa Maria Valley Railroad was vital to bringing the agricultural gifts produced in the Santa Maria Valley to the nation. A video taken in the valley in 1925 showcases the modern agricultural activities and methods employed by ranchers and farmers at that time.

For a window into the Santa Maria Valley of the 1920s, a video entitled Santa Maria Railroad, is preserved in the public domain on

See the video,  here


Old Spanish Days – Fiesta

Santa Barbara County will celebrate Old Spanish Days from August 3 – 7, 2022. The four-day event returns after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. The City of Santa Barbara welcomes tens of thousands of visitors who come for the parades, the rodeo, the food, dancing, and music.

A history of Old Spanish Days is offered by Erin Graffy de Garcia, local historian, in an article published by Noozhawk in 2017. Ms. Graffy de Garcia advises that the celebration celebrates the “Rancho period” of Santa Barbara County’s history.

Ms. Graffy de Garcia writes, “‘Our Fiesta includes the patronage of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and the participation of and presentations by the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation. This is what is meant by ‘unity through community.'”

The Fiesta tradition began in 1924. In June of 1925, a devastating earthquake wrecked much of downtown Santa Barbara, including the old courthouse. While citizens considered canceling the event scheduled for August of that year, a decision was made to go on with the celebration. They did so with much success.

Old Spanish Days and The Santa Barbara County Courthouse

In August of 1929, the current Santa Barbara County Courthouse was completed. The iconic jewel was dedicated in a public event during Old Spanish Days in 1929.

From the Calexico Chronicle, August 2, 1929:

Opening with the dedication of the new $1,500,000 Spanish type courthouse on the afternoon of August 14…Santa Barbara will celebrate again for four days its old Spanish Days Fiesta with free dances and public attractions.

Governor CC Young and state officers of Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West will attend the dedication and remain for the Old Spanish Days. Will Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford and a host of other movie stars attend the fiesta every year informally.

Within the next few days, practically all of the citizens here will don Spanish costumes. More than 1000 characters, Indians, ’49ers, Fremont’s soldiers, pirates, and Spanish vaqueros will be seen in the historical parade on Thursday, August 15.

Blooded horses from famous ranchos will appear in the parade.

Two of the Southern Pacific’s oldest locomotives will be used in the re-enactment of the arrival of the first train in Santa Barbara. Several hundred characters will take part in the pageant Saturday afternoon.

On Friday afternoon, the Ruiz-Botello pageant will be given in the patio of the new courthouse. This pageant is given by two of the oldest Spanish families in California. There will be singing and dancing and general merry-making.

On Thursday and Saturday nights, the pageant, Romantic California, in which 300 characters take part will be given.

Old Spanish Days – 1925

The magazine, California Southland, published an article entitled, Old Spanish Days in Flower in Santa Barbara, While the article does not refer to the rancho days that Ms. Graffey de Garcia describes as the impetus for the celebration, the article cites “…the sweet romance of Spain.”

“To no other community the West has it been vouchsafed to retain traditions, memories, customs and delightful conventions of the early Spanish days in the sense that it has been given Santa Barbara, and she has received and held the trust sacredly.”

The photos of that long ago Fiesta are lovely.

Telephone Service in Santa Barbara County – The 1920s

It’s hard to imagine a time without telephone service, but in Santa Barbara County in the 1920s, the technology was revolutionary. By 1920, 35% of American homes had telephone service, though the number was far less for rural areas like much of Santa Barbara County. Telephone lines were strung from pole to pole, throughout the region, though fires, floods, earthquakes, storms – even a bird – could damage the line and disrupt phone service for days or months at a time. Prior to the 1920s, communicating at a distance was limited to sending telegraphs or via USPS mail.

Communication had gone live, whether to a shop around the corner or to a governmental office at the other end of the country. Residential customers were usually grouped into “party lines,” with three or four households sharing one line. While the main line was shared, calls were identified by a unique ring assigned to each number. The method did allow for people to eavesdrop on calls placed to other individuals.

Transatlantic lines laid beneath the ocean allowing for international calls between the United States to Europe. Business dealings were expedited with the advent of telephones, and customer bases were increased. Families, friends, sweethearts enjoyed having conversations even from a long distance.

Like other hallmarks of the 1920s, telephones, like automobiles and airplanes, virtually shortened time and distance between individuals. It seemed all of society moved at a faster pace than ever before.

By 1927, an increase in automated telephone exchanges and new dial telephones put the power of communication in the caller’s hands. A film from 1927 provided guidance, albeit silent, in using the newest technology:  How to Use the Dial Telephone.

Along with the ability to make and receive calls, cities and towns provided customers with local directories. In addition to names and numbers, state and local government information was included, along with advertisements.

Telephone Directory for Santa Maria, CA – 1922 and Beyond

The Santa Maria and Vicinity Directory included listings for a number of towns and settlements in its pages: Santa Maria, Ballard, Betteravia, Bicknell, Careaga, Casmalia, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Los Alamos, Los Cruces, Los Olivos, Orby, Orcutt, Santa Ynez, Sisquoc, and Solvang.

Telephone directories were a vitally important item in any home or business. In the 1920s, not only did listings include a telephone number, but the location of an individual’s residence, employment status, and place of employment were often included, and the names of high school students and their phone numbers were often listed, as well.

The old style of residential telephone directories were obsoleted with the advent of cell phones, as telephones were no longer associated with a physical location, but with an individual, instead.