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Miramar to the Corner... and then some
updated: Aug 18, 2012, 9:30 AM
By The Urban Hikers (Stacey Wright & Peter Hartmann)
At the beginning of the summer we took a morning hike along the railroad tracks beginning just west of
Miramar Beach (near Montecito Creek) to the Summerland Point, and told you about much of that hike it
in our two previous stories. Today, we'll wrap up our adventure with a stroll up Eucalyptus Lane and a
peek into the Miramar Hotel property. We'll show and tell you about the Ocean View Grocery, All Saints
by-the-Sea Church and a Catholic chapel that once sat on the bluffs near the end of Eucalyptus Lane.
And last, but not least we'll tell you about Grover Cleveland Barnes, a remarkable man who was known
and loved by many during his long, long life.
We begin our journey on the way up Eucalyptus Lane from the public beach access at Miramar Beach to
the 101 Freeway. These are just a few of the sights we saw along the way.
And now for a historical perspective and some photos of this little corner of Montecito. Much has been
written about the Miramar Hotel, including its rich and wonderful history, the politics, the prestige and
the underbelly...we don't want to rehash what's been told and we certainly don't want to show you the
same old, same old photos of a severely neglected piece of property. We do want to give a very brief
history of the property, show you some older images, and show you how the property appears today,
hopefully from vantage points and perspectives you might not have seen recently. We'll start with a
modern view and then make our way back in time.
Sadly the hotel was closed in 2000, and many have turned their backs on this wonderful gem. This is
the Miramar Hotel circa summer of 2012.
The land where the Miramar Hotel now sits was originally purchased in 1876 by Josiah and Emmeline
Doulton. Josiah was the younger son of John Doulton , founder of the Doulton Potteries of London,
England and as the second son, set out first to Australia and then to the New World in search of his own
fortune. The Doulton's first venture on the property was a farm, which they dubbed "Ocean View Farm".
In 1887, the long-awaited railroad finally made it to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles, bringing with it
plenty of tourists and visitors from LA and beyond. Modernly one may wonder why the railroad crosses
the old Miramar Hotel grounds so close to the beachfront, being prime real estate and all. But the fact is
that when the railroad was built the Doulton property was still primarily used as a farm and the least
productive land was located near the ocean. Though still a working farm, the first guest to spend time at
what was to ultimately become the Miramar Hotel arrived in the summer in 1887. That date marks the
beginning of the Doulton's career as hoteliers, and the beginning of a colorful chapter in Montecito
As the clientele grew, the hotel morphed into the Miramar we've known over the decades. It's said that
an early guest of the hotel suggested to Mrs. Doulton that the property's name be changed to
"Miramar", meaning "behold the sea", and that within days of the suggestion the new name was in use.
The hotel continued to gain public attention and by 1892 had sufficient business to warrant a stop for
the Southern Pacific trains, which would stop at the hotel with a flag signal. A couple of years later a
"proper" little station shelter was erected, and Montecito and the Miramar were officially on the map. As
more and more people came to stay at the Miramar, cottages were added to the property on a yearly
basis, and by 1910 the hotel consisted of approximately 30 structures including cottages, a restaurant,
a boardwalk, garages and stables. From its earliest days, right up to its closure in September of 2000,
the Miramar was a popular destination for day trippers from Santa Barbara, as well as the out-of-
towners. Please note that the following photos are not UH photos - except for the post card, the images
are part of the Doulton Collection as published in David Myrick's book Montecito; Volume 1.
Today the Miramar property is a total eyesore and the source of major disappointment for many. It has
been severely neglected over the past decade and is the subject of endless discussion and banter. Like
many, we're looking forward to the day the Miramar re-opens and begins to once again provide locals
and travelers with the amenities and good times for which it had become so well known.
One of the legends of the Miramar was Grover Cleveland Barnes, an amazing man and an integral part of
the Miramar's history. If you ever visited the hotel, surely you would have encountered this larger than
life gentleman, who served as the bell captain at the Miramar for over 35 years.
Grover's personal history is as follows: He was born to John R. and Nannie Barnes on November 18,
1906 in Percialla, Texas. In 1922, at the age of 16 years old he left the family's farm and headed to
Crockett, Texas where he found work as a servant in a private home. While working, he graduated from
high school, earning an athletic scholarship to the prestigious Bishop College, a now defunct school
which was also attended by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Jesse Jackson. While in college
Grover studied history, but due to a variety of difficulties, (mostly economic) he was unable to complete
his degree and graduate. The setback didn't stop Grover from gaining a deeper understanding of
humanity and the history of the world, however, and he continued in this pursuit during the span of his
In the late 1930's, after working in Texas as a teacher in, Grover moved to California, first settling at
Camp Cooke, which is now the Vandenberg Air Force Base. There he cleaned and ironed the soldiers'
uniforms, earning roughly $1 a day for his work. Grover eventually moved to Santa Barbara and sought
work in the hotel industry. Due to Grover's good nature, articulate manner and unflappable style, the
Miramar Hotel's new owner, Paul Gawzner, hired him in 1942 first as a porter and later as a waiter in the
lunchroom. In 1946 Grover was promoted to the prestigious and highly sought-after position of chief
bellman, beating out a whole cadre of other candidates for the job. He remained in his position at the
Miramar for 35 years, until his retirement in 1981. It was during these years that the UH and many other
locals and visitors had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know the magnificent Grover Barnes. We
can recall seeing Grover and his ready smile every time we had occasion to visit the hotel, be it to buy
treats at the gift shop or take a swimming lesson in the pool. Grover was a huge part of the Miramar's
history, and unlike another Miramar "legend" he was always, kind, courteous and patient with everyone
who crossed his path.
Grover died in Santa Barbara in May, 2010 at the age of 103 years old. He'd led a marvelous life, living
on Gutierrez Street on the lower Eastside for about half a century. All the while he continued
photographing his community, collecting articles, contributing to his "causes" in a variety of ways, and
documenting the highlights of his life. His beloved wife, Ethel pre-deceased him in 2006, but
fortunately she lived long enough to see Grover receive the SB Independent's Local Hero Award in 2001,
a proclamation by the Mayor and City Council and a Congressional Honor in 2005. Grover was truly an
amazing man, who not only left his mark at the Miramar Hotel, but also left a huge legacy for the people
of Santa Barbara.
In the years preceding his death, Grover Barnes, the man dubbed by Santa Barbara as "The Ambassador
of Hospitality" arranged to leave a collection of his chronicles to California Ethnic and Multicultural
Archives at UCSB. The collection, referred to as "Grover Barnes Papers CEMA 115" includes his
photographs, correspondence, editorials, and original writings, and are now part of the university's
permanent collection. We love Grover's enormous interest and curiosity in the people and world around
him, and flatter ourselves by thinking we are in a way, descendants of Grover Barnes. He was clearly one
of a handful of old Santa Barbara citizens who took the time to observe, love and document this unique
town we call home, and we are better off for having had him in our midst.
Today "Miramar" is common around the area of the hotel, but that was not always the case. For
example, Miramar Lane was called Ocean View Avenue. There were also a little grocery store and an inn
located on the southeast corner of Eucalyptus Lane and what is now the 101 Freeway. The store, the
Ocean View Grocery along with an adjacent boarding house, "The Bellevue", were owned and operated
by Eugene and Mary Alice Kurtz. He was a native of Germany and she was a native of France. The Ocean
View Grocery and the Bellevue operated from 1901 to 1906, during a time when Montecito was "out in
the sticks" and there was a lot of rough and tumble happenings in that part of town. After closing the
store, Eugene Kurtz left Santa Barbara for San Francisco, and later moved to Pasadena. Mary Alice Kurtz
remained in Montecito, however. Her son, John de Ponce was a prominent member of the community
and as Assistant Fire Chief was, in 1906, one of the founders of the present day Santa Barbara City Fire
Department. The following photos show the store and Eugene Kurtz, and are from the de Ponce Family
Another prominent landmark on Eucalyptus Lane is All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Initially
named "Episcopal Church of All Saints", the first service was held on December 9, 1900. The church
property, having been donated by the Doultons in 1898, was slated to become the home of an Episcopal
Church and the parishioners had hoped to have the church dedicated on All Saints Day (November 1st),
however construction was not complete by then. A few years after its dedication, the church underwent
renovation and an addition, and was renamed All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. More additions
and renovations were completed over the years, including work done to repair damage suffered during
the 1925 earthquake. This is how the church looked in 1900, and how it appears today. The stately
home is also church property located across Eucalyptus Lane.
Lastly, and speaking of churches, few people are aware, (and fewer still can remember) that a humble
little Catholic chapel used to sit at the end of Eucalyptus Lane on the bluffs above the beach. The chapel
was the home of Father Joseph Lavy, a priest who could reportedly speak seven languages. Between the
years of 1908 and 1911 he held Mass in his little chapel for a variety of local parishioners, many of
whom probably spoke a language other than English. Sadly the little chapel is no longer, but this image,
a part of the de Ponce Family collection, depicts both it and Father Lavy.
We aren't certain where next we'll decide to hike, observe and discover, now that we've covered the
coastal route from the city to Summerland... For now, we encourage you to go out and explore our
marvelous town on foot, keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter, and above all,
expect the unexpected.
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