“A World Class Community”

Roughly translated “Montecito” means little woods. At the time of the Spanish settlers this was an area of magnificent oak groves full of grizzly bears and wolf packs. Father Junipero Serra had originally staked out a location for the Santa Barbara Mission on what is presently Hot Springs Road; however, his predecessor, Father Lauseen chose to move the mission to its present spot closer to the protection of the Presidio and its soldiers. 

It was these soldiers who were the first non-native inhabitants of Montecito. Facing retirement and with their wages at times 20 or 30 years arrears, the government awarded the soldiers 50 acre plots in what became known of as “Old Spanish Town.” Tired of the trek to Santa Barbara and the mission they built their own adobe chapel (Mt. Carmel) in 1857. 

The first American settler was an ailing 49er, Wilbur Curtiss, who was restored to health after "taking the waters" at an 100 year old Chumash Indian hot spring still in existence which he homesteaded in 1855. A wave of American settlers started arriving in 1858. It was a buyers market. For example, Newton M. Coats bought a farm on what is now Birnam Wood Country Club for 75 cents an acre. They soon built a U.S. Post Office, an American village at the corner of East Valley and San Ysidro and the areas first protestant churches-El Montecito Presbyterian (1887) and All Saints by the Sea Episcopal (1869). 

Around the 1900 
As more and more wealthy easterners were drawn to the Montecito area by its incomparable scenery and climate. They began developing the fabulous estates on the occupied hilltops overlooking Montecito's beautiful woodlands. It was an opulent life style brought down by a combination of the 1914 income tax law, the stock market crash of 1929, and the rising cost of servants. But many gorgeous estates still exist today though some have been subdivided or taken over by larger institutions as in the case of Rancho Tijada now Westmont College, Graholm now Brooks Institute of Photography and Solano now the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. 

Recreations opportunities are abundant. The Montecito Trails Association has established a wealth of trails available to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Butterfly beach across from the Santa Barbara Biltmore boasts incredible views especially at sunset and 12 acre Manning Park provides picnic and BBQ areas, a softball field, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, two children's playground areas and a community building. 

There are three private golf courses that also have social memberships: Birnam Wood, The Valley Club, and the Montecito Country Club. For tennis buffs where are the public tennis courts off Old Coast Highway and the exclusive Knollwood Tennis Club. Many Montecitians can be found at the Montecito YMCA in either the lap pool, Jacuzzi, aerobic classes, nautilus room, or the track. The Y has a comprehensive child-care program as well. 

Montecito is not an incorporated area though cityhood was very narrowly defeated in 1991. The Montecito Protective and Improvement Association was formed in 1948 with the mandate of maintaining the unspoiled rural atmosphere and plays a major role in the decision making process for the area. Santa Barbara County provides police protection (augmented by the private Montecito Patrol) and there are separate Montecito Fire and Water districts. 

Montecito schools include Cold Springs and Montecito Union elementary schools, and Santa Barbara Junior and Sr. High. Private schools in the area begin with All Saints Preschool and include Howard, Crane, nearby Marymount, the Brooks Institute of Photography, and Westmont College. 

Exclusive boutiques and quaint shops along with lots of other specialized stores can be found in the Upper Montecito Village and along Coast Village Road. The area is renown for its superb restaurants. 

With Santa Barbara and all its cultural, recreational, shopping, and dining opportunities and civic organization nearby, Montecito is truly a very special place to live. I would love to show you more of this delightful area and hopefully help you move here.

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Joanne Schoenfeld, CRS, GRI

2630 State Street Ste 7, Santa Barbara, CA

(805) 563-9989 · (800) 676-1438

“Knowledge, Experience, &

Enthusiasm Working For You!”