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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.

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

 COMMENT 239787 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-10 09:59 AM

A most charming street!

 

 COMMENT 239796 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-10 10:31 AM

Urban Hiker here - On a re-read, we fear we may have incorrectly attributed the beautiful home at 124 W. Cota to Dr. Brinkerhoff. Gosh it sounded like such a good story...but in our efforts to confirm the date the home was built, and its original owner(s), we have been unable to substantiate what we first believed to be true. We'd love to know the facts if anyone knows them.

 

 COMMENT 239885 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-10 05:50 PM

i'm curious about those wonderful palm trees. there are various streets around s.b. (cabrillo, quinientos to name two) that have those tall lanky palms. were they once the street tree du jour, planted approximately at the same time around town? is there a story behind them? (or at least up amongst the fronds?)

 

 COMMENT 239898P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-10 08:14 PM

Thanks for the most pleasing story about our town.

 

 COMMENT 239899P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-10 08:31 PM

I don't know about the Brinkerhoff palm trees specifically, but I've done some research on the history of street trees and I know palms were a quintessential Victorian decorative plant and Californians were quite proud of the fact that they could grow them here outside. (Back east they appeared as potted plants in hallways and parlors.) They were planted a lot from the 1880s through the 1920s, in front yards, in parks, and as street trees.

 

 ARCHIE agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-11 09:09 AM

Wonderful history and photographs! Thanks so much -

 

 COMMENT 239960P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-11 09:22 AM

Simply charming. Gosh I love this town!

 

 COMMENT 239963 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-11 09:37 AM

I had forgotten about the Redwood Inn. Excellent place to eat. Too bad the wonderful white tablecloth type restaurants have gone by the wayside. Bring back The Talk of the Town, The Sommerset. The Green Gables. Carl's Steakhouse,The Bistro, Casa de Seville and so many more...

 

 COMMENT 239991 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-11 11:02 AM

Absolutely Beautiful! Thank you so much! Having grown up in Santa Barbara and now living in Arizona, this brings back so many wonderful memories! Thanks again!...Kate

 

 COMMENT 240063P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-11 03:39 PM

The historic name of the home at 124 West Cota Street is the Pierce House. It was built circa 1896 by Charles Pierce, a city councilman and the city's first lumber dealer. Pierce died soon after, and the house was sold in 1902 to the Abraham family. The Abraham family lived in the home for 25 years and also planted the redwood tree. This information was received from the Santa Barbara Historical Society. The house has had many lives over the years, but has been a residence since 1997. (We are the current owners).

 

 SB FAN agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-11 06:52 PM

I've been told that Dr. Brinkerhoff did not live on Brinkerhoff or near it. That subdivision was one of his investments. He built a very large and elegant Victorian style home on Garden Street near Los Olivos. It was designed to include his medical office, a waiting room (a sitting room for the family out of office hours) and a private exit door for patients. (The home is still there and beautifully maintained.)

This was another delightful article and photos from the Urban Hikers. Thank you! I still think that a book should come out of your posts.

 

 COMMENT 241328P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-12-15 04:24 PM

This is great, this is the house 124 W, Cota St. I lived in with my Mom, brother and sister, while going to high school. My mother Bessie Ryder/Hawkins and Jim Smock (partners) bought the house in about 1956 to make it into a restaurant. Jimmy Smock Jr. (his dad has now passed away), lives in the house and has taken very good care of it. My Mom and Jim worked for seven years building the Redwood Restaurant, Mom wanted to call it Diamond Jim's because he was such a perfectionist. We cut down a lot of Palm trees in the yard to make room for parking. Every square inch of the house was restored, and only modified where necessary for the restaurant. Just a note: all of the studs and lumber to construct the house are redwood. The redwood tree, is what established the name for the restaurant. The house was a Sorority House before they brought it and was in bad repair. Jim Sr. married another lady and she changed it to a German restaurant and then an antique shop. Bradbury Street, which is only one block long on the side of the house, I think it was named after the contractor that built the house.

Skip Nirenberg

PS. I will show this to my Mom, and she may have some more input. She was born in Santa Barbara, worked in every restaurant in town and her dad did a lot of the cement work around town.

 

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