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URBAN HIKE

Beautiful Little Brinkerhoff
updated: Dec 10, 2011, 9:30 AM

By the Urban Hikers, Stacey Wright & Peter Hartmann

In this "Urban Hike first", we've decided to dedicate the entirety of our weekly story to just one street, and we'll show you each and every house on it. The street, Brinkerhoff Ave., is located between Haley and Cota, and also bounded by Chapala and De La Vina.

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This one-block street was originally an alley that bisected an entire square block (bounded by the streets above) and was named for the owner of the parcel, Dr. Samuel B. Brinkerhoff, Santa Barbara's first physician, and a true man about town.

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Dr. Brinkerhoff was born in New York, and at the age of twenty-nine, after studying medicine with his cousin on the East Coast, he headed by steamship toward San Francisco. His intention was to find relief from the various health problems he was suffering, by relocating to sunny California.

As luck would have it, on the day of his arrival in town, July 23, 1852, after the steamer stopped in Santa Barbara to unload a few supplies, young Dr. Brinkerhoff came ashore just as a gun battle was erupting. Known as "The Battle of Arroyo Burro", the shootout involved Sheriff W.W. Twist and his men, versus local bad boy, Jack Powers, and his gang (you can read more about Jack Powers in our Urban Hike San Roque story). While tending to the injured men and treating several gunshot wounds, Dr. Brinkerhoff missed the ship when it pulled out of port. Luckily for the citizens of Santa Barbara, Sam Brinkerhoff decided to stay on, and lived here until his death.

The home that Sam Brinkerhoff built in 1890, and occupied during his years in Santa Barbara, is located at the end of what is now Brinkerhoff Avenue; at that time it served as his driveway. Today the address of the home is 124 W. Cota Street. In the mid-1960's, it was home to the Redwood Inn, a German restaurant, and later became Redwood Antiques. Today it's home to the 10th Life Foundation, a cat shelter and rescue program, founded and operated by the same couple who had previously owned and operated the Redwood Inn restaurant.

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Dr. Brinkerhoff was, for many years, Santa Barbara's only doctor, and as such treated all of the residents of the town, regardless of their ability to pay, or their nationality. With little illness to worry about, his primary work involved the delivery of babies, and very often traveled into the homes of the Chumash women when called to assist.

When he wasn't doctoring, Sam Brinkerhoff was involved in a variety of civic pursuits - sometimes solo, but more often with a group of other wealthy and influential men. Some of Dr. Brinkerhoff's achievements include: construction of Santa Barbara's first wharf (located at the end of Chapala Street) in 1868; the 1868 construction of the Santa Ynez Turnpike Road, which was a toll road over the mountains until 1898 when he sold it to the County and it became Stagecoach Road/San Marcos Pass; co-founder of Santa Barbara Gas Light Company in 1871; benefactor of the land for the first Trinity Episcopal Church in 1867 (located in what is now the Staples parking lot - you can read more about that in our Urban Hike "Holy Adventures" story); one of the founders of one of Santa Barbara‘s first banks; owner of extensive real estate in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria; and one of the original "tourist promoters" for the town. He encouraged visitors from the East Coast, and often published his opinions regarding the medicinal benefits of the off-shore breezes at Coal Point for their oil vapors. His contention was that the vapors cured a variety of respiratory ailments, and when visitors from the East Coast felt revitalized after visiting the area, they automatically concurred with the doctor's opinions regarding the apparent natural healing properties of the oil slicks.

In January, 1877, at the age of fifty-four, Samuel Brinkerhoff married Lucy Noyce. They lived together in the white house at the end of Brinkerhoff Ave until his death just three years later. Indeed, early Santa Barbara was fortunate to have the good doctor as one of the first "Yankee Barberenos".

The houses on each of the corners of Brinkerhoff are these.

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And since the view up and down the street is difficult to properly capture, we recommend that you take a stroll down this lovely little street to experience its true charm and beauty.

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In no particular order, these are some of the wonderful houses on Brinkerhoff. Some are homes, some are home to commercial endeavors, and we suspect that a few might even be both.

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This home, built in 1888 by Harry Howcraft, was his abode until his death in 1932. Harry was a local blacksmith who had his shop located at the nearby corner of Brinkerhoff and Cota Street and later moved it to 512 State Street, eventually home of the original Joe's Café. Legend has it that Harry, who often worked at his blacksmith shop dressed in a clean, crisp white shirt, was called "Lord Henry" around town. After "Lord Henry's" death in 1973, the Ogle Family purchased the property, and today they remain the owners. For years, they have reported hearing and seeing "Lord Henry" inside the little cottage, and also outside, walking along Brinkerhoff Avenue in the still of the dark nights. With all the incredible history on the little avenue that once was an alley, we don't doubt the stories for a second

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And these are the rest of the wonderful houses that make up Brinkerhoff Avenue.

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As always we encourage you to go out and explore the city, meet your neighbors, keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter, and above all, expect the unexpected.

 

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