THE UPPER EAST, FULL OF HIDDEN TREASURES
East of State Street, this predominantly residential neighborhood boasts some of the city’s earliest and finest homes, and still one of the lowest density zoned areas in downtown. Custom homes in varying shapes and sizes reflect a variety of structural characteristics. Spanish Colonial Revival and Victorian style, share scenic streets with Classic California Bungalows and Mission Revival style homes. Even a handful of contemporary interpretations echoes more modernistic lines with uncomplicated grace, adding to an already diverse landscape.
Residential pride of ownership is reflected in manicured gardens, fine craftsmanship, and careful preservation of historical roots, amid the urban cityscape. Walking the sidewalks while keeping a thoughtful pace, one will discover the real hidden treasures of this well established and finely preserved area of the city. Keep an eye out for “Lucky” (formerly Rover!), a bronze canine resident on Garden Street since 1903, and often dressed up for the holidays or special occasions!
As the most notable historical and cultural landmarks, The Old Mission Santa Barbara, (Est. 1786) and Rose Garden are the shining crown jewels of this beloved neighborhood. Regular Mass is held every day, and tours are a must, even for a local, to gain more intimate knowledge of this “queen” of the California Mission system. A team of volunteers maintains over a thousand varieties of roses, preserving the beauty for all to enjoy.
Alameda Park is the beloved home of “Kid’s World,” a playground built by local hands and accented throughout with artful touches like child’s handprints on donated tiles, a whimsical “friendly” shark climbing sculpture, and the intricate maze of fun for all ages. Just across the street, the manicured beauty and serenity of Alice Keck Park features a central pond where turtles often sunbathe on the rocks.
In general, the neighborhood mood is serene and quieter than one would expect from a residential zone within city limits, and that is indeed part of its charm. Whether a rambling old estate on a prominent corner, or a modest bungalow, the regard and relaxed pace in these historic Upper East blocks, is palpable.
HISTORY – Pearl Chase Society Historic Home Tour is a beautiful and informative annual event that offers a peek inside the lives and homes of the historic neighborhoods in the Upper East.
THE MISSION – Tour Old Mission Santa Barbara – the nine-room museum is rich in Native Chumash artifacts, while La Huerta Historic Garden features native plantings from the Mission’s botanic footprint. On Memorial Day weekend, the Italian Street Painting Festival, I’Madonnari, comes to life in front of this most iconic and divine monument to the area’s heritage.
FILM – During the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, book a window seat for dinner at Opal, or balcony table for two at Jane, and enjoy the spectacle and celebrity sightings.
ART – Get Creative! The Santa Barbara Museum of Art offers art classes at their satellite Ridley-Tree facility on Santa Barbara Street – an inspired place to learn and create.
RECREATION – The playing fields of Anthony’s Seminary are home to happy upper east kids, dogs, and even Frisbee aficionados. The chapel’s acoustical perfection makes it a sought after venue for choir concerts.
TREASURES – Watch for weekend “Estate Sale” signs! It’s worth dropping in to see what valuable treasures may need a new home!