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S.B. Stone Mason History
updated: Jan 18, 2013, 9:05 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Lately I've observed more closely the different styles of Santa Barbara stone walls. I am told there are English, Scottish, and Italian styles. Some have grout, others are more even, or maybe they were constructed at vastly different times. Do Edhat readers have information to share about our stone walls?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 365134P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-18 09:18 PM

You might want to read the book published by the Santa Barbara Conservancy, Stone Architecture in Santa Barbara; http://www.sbconservancy.com/sbcpublications.html


 COMMENT 365135P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-18 09:35 PM

Just bought the book online - thank you. Have never heard of the SB Conservancy before.


 MESARATS agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-18 11:13 PM

Much of the stone work on the Rivera was built by Italians like my grandfather who ended up doing stone and tile when his partner in the speakeasy ran off with the bookkeeper. There is something about these old guys who always seem to work very hard until their eighties. Maybe being a product of that is why I have a more sympathetic views on our current immigrant population


 COMMENT 365176 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 07:17 AM

Mason's ability, project budget and schedule, stone type and source, and builders preference all play a role. One of the greatest deciders: Is it field stone or quarried stone? Stop by Stoneyard on Milpas to see a display of patterns.


 COMMENT 365178 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 07:31 AM

The SB Conservancy's book was based in part on a survey by volunteers of old stone walls on and around the Riviera, I believe, for the City of SB. You may be able to get that original report.


 COMMENT 365194 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 08:02 AM

Many of the old walls were made from sandstone which is in abundance locally. Natural rock or field sandstone may be collected and set with mortar. They are generally round stones that are matched by the mason. Some low decorative walls can be set without mortar by careful fitting and matching. Still other local sandstone can be rough cut into blocks and mortared into a wall. What is most important in working with sandstone is to select solid sandstone and not layered/compressed sandstone. The latter "sheds" rock, crumbles and has poor stength and longivity. If you are building a wall of sandstone make sure you have a mason that knows the rock. Many of the local sandstone walls were built by an Italian mason (who's name escapes me at the moment).There are still few artisan/masons around like William Quinn, Olaf & Sons in the valley, etc. but I am afraid it is a dying art/profession.


 TROLLEY TOM agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 08:23 AM

I bought the book Stone Architecture in Santa Barbara at Chaucer's and I think they probably also have it at the Historical Museum gift store. Buy local!


 CAT2FAT2 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 09:02 AM

I'd like to hear more about the speakeasy, Mesarats. When and where was this speakeasy?


 COMMENT 365234 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 09:22 AM

DaRos is probably who 194 was thinking of. Here's a link to the history of the beautiful sandstone Mission Creek Bridge. http://www.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?id=3353
I have been informed that the fate of the bridge (a City Landmark) is in jeopardy due to the "stakeholders" who want to widen the entrance to Mission Canyon.


 COMMENT 365254 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 10:18 AM

One of the more recent is the State St. bridge at Cabrillo. I worked on it some 20+ years ago and Ozzie DaRos did the stonework on it. It is cut stone facing over concrete but is still pretty nice looking. The finials are solid stone.


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-19 03:48 PM

Also a wonderful one published by the Trust for Historic Preservation - it's in their bookstore (not to be confused with the SB Historical SSociety down the street).


 COMMENT 365531 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-20 11:36 AM

I don't know much about the walls here in Santa Barbara, but my Grandfather Miguel "Mike" Garcia was a Black Smith in the early 1920's who did alot of work in Montecito Estates, sadly I don't know much of the history or even which ones are still standing.


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