Former St. Anthony’s Seminary Listed for $50 Million to be Auctioned Off Next Month

The building that was formerly St. Anthony's Seminary goes up for auction on June 16, 2024 (courtesy)

Starting Bids Expected up to $25 Million for Historic Santa Barbara Property with Troubled Past

A historic Santa Barbara property is set to make its way to the auction block this June.

The former St. Anthony’s Seminary, located at 2300 Garden Street directly behind Old Mission Santa Barbara, has been designated a Santa Barbara City historical landmark in 2012 having once served as a theological college and various private schools dating back to the early 1900s.

Originally on Mission Santa Barbara land, it was the home to St. Anthony’s Seminary from 1899 to 1987 and served as a Franciscan boys seminary school for most of that time.

Most recently the building housed the Garden Street Academy, an independent K-12 school, that permanently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center structure was built in 1899 and designed by Brother Adrian Wewer while several additions were designed and restored by architect Ross Montgomery after the 1925 earthquake. The complex includes historical archaeological structures including an aqueduct system.

St. Anthony’s Seminary in 1923 (Photo: UCLA Library)

While the property has deep historical significance it’s also the place where decades of child sexual abuse were perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church.

The Boston Globe published a series of investigative articles beginning in 2002 of the Catholic Church’s pervasive child molestation accusations against clergy members in the United States and the church’s repeated pattern of cover-ups, with some reports stating it continues to happen to this day.

In 2019, the Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. Barbara publicly identified for the first time, 50 priests accused of sexually abusing children in its ministries since 1950. Of the fifty names revealed, 26 were assigned to St. Anthony’s Seminary or Old Mission Santa Barbara during their careers, often after they’d been accused of molestation in another ministry, then reassigned to the Santa Barbara area. The Franciscan Friars stated there were more than 120 victims identified, reports Tyler Hayden of the Santa Barbara Independent.

The chapel inside the building that was formerly St. Anthony’s Seminary. (courtesy)

The building has been previously listed for sale for $50 million.

The property, which spans an expansive 11.37 acres, is set to be auctioned via Concierge Auctions, in partnership with Timothy Di Prizito of Christie’s International Realty, AKG, Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker Realty, and Kyle Barratt & Mark Perry of CBRE.

Chad Roffers, co-founder and CEO of Concierge Auctions, expressed excitement about the upcoming auction.

“This is a property offering with arguably some of the most significant investment potential in Southern California, due to its landmarked status, recent renovations, and best-in-class amenities suitable for a variety of uses. I’m thrilled our sellers of this magnificent asset have once again chosen to partner with Concierge Auctions to help them achieve their goals of identifying market value on their timeline alongside some of the most reputable listing agents in the industry,” said Roffers.

The building that was formerly St. Anthony’s Seminary goes up for auction on June 16, 2024 (courtesy)

The auction, which opens on June 12 and concludes on June 26, will take place online through conciergeauctions.com, with starting bids expected to be up to $25 million.

The property features six institutionally-sized building structures, including a multipurpose sports field, tennis and basketball courts, gardens, classroom and office portables, several parking lots, and 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains. With its zoning allowing for residential and potential commercial opportunities, the property presents a range of possibilities, from a hotel to a wellness center, a private school or a family compound.

For more details on the auction and the property, interested parties can visit conciergeauctions.com.

The building that was formerly St. Anthony’s Seminary goes up for auction on June 16, 2024 (courtesy)

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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28 Comments

  1. The past is horrific and disturbingly sad. There are too many mentally and emotionally ill people in this world.The buildings are beautiful and architecturally significant. Let’s hope it will become a much brighter and happier place that will be open to the public and become part of many accessible buildings here.
    It would sicken me to think this would go to an uber rich family as a private residence while so many are struggling to stay in Santa Barbara even with 2 and 3 jobs. There is more than enough unfounded entitlement in this town and it is only getting worse, keep the uberrich out of Mission Canyon, they are not welcome.

    • It will be sold to international buyers who will build a high end hotel. With its proximity to the mission, natural history museum and the botanical gardens, it’s a logical outcome. No way this will be housing or used for the greater good.

  2. Maybe Hilda Maldonado wants to pickup the tab for it on the backs of our kids and their teachers like the Armory purchase – remember that? It’s a multimillion dollar storage yard for SBUSD vehicles now.

    I agree it would be sad if a rich ‘Cito type bought it for their personal second or third mansion property, which could happen. And you’re right, the buildings are special, and the site is outstanding. Maybe another private school will swoop in and buy it. It’ll be interesting.

  3. I have family members that were victims of molestation by priest while attending there. I recall attending boy’s choir performances there and it is a beautiful place, kind of spooky, especially after learning of what transpired there. I hope that whoever purchases the property renovates and uses it for something good and safe for all who enter.

  4. I was struck by this: “the property presents a range of possibilities, from a hotel to a wellness center, a private school or a family compound.”
    No mention of how the city or county might be interested in creating more housing? I thought they were quite concerned about that. A new state law allows property owned by churches to be used for affordable housing, and this seems like a good place to try implementing it.

  5. Beautiful buildings and site, horrific past. The basement area is particularly spooky. Another thought: there was probably a Chumash area up there during the mission days. The various cemeteries sprinkled through the Riviera tell that tale. Some very bad Feng Shui or Karma associated with the area. Buyer beware.

  6. Thank you for including the horrific past of this building and the Catholic Church’s atrocities. I don’t know how it would work financially but this should be converted into low income housing, something we desperately need here.

    • Terrible idea. A developer will say “affordable housing” again and again at all the right meetings and then go market rate on the majority of it so they can make money, just like what’s going down right now with south Patterson area and other spots in Goleta. Surest way to ruin that neighborhood, Surferlife. I’m guessing you might not live anywhere near there. But tell me I’m wrong.

      • BASIC – one of those times I agree with you. This should never be allowed to be housing. I grew up in that neighborhood, riding bikes around there and playing sports on that field. Adding more housing would destroy the quiet area.

        As tragic and evil as it’s past is, it’s nevertheless a beautiful building that should be protected from development or any major renovation. I believe it’s equipped for a school so maybe that could be one possibility. Or just a memorial building holding special events? Razing it for housing or a convention center would be awful.

        Keep it there, find a good use for it and memorialize the tragedies that took place there over the decades and centuries. It’s 100% haunted, that whole area is, but let’s not tear it down.

  7. Landmark status is a potentially big problem because it limits what a developer can do. That church must stay there and the new owner must pay $500k per year in property taxes on it if it sells for $50m

    • Not necessarily. State legislators are once again finding ways to strip local control in order to force jurisdictions to upzone every last piece of land. They are now considering a bill to remove the protection of historic structures and districts allowing developers to build housing all around it even on it if “ respects the historical features” . Anyone who thought this RHNA cycle was horrendous wait until you see what HCD is recommending for the next.

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