La Casa de la Raza Designated a Historic Landmark
By edhat staff
The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously designated La Casa de la Raza, at 601 E. Montecito Street, a historic landmark.
This is the first designated landmark representing the rich culture of the Latinx community in Santa Barbara.
Completed in 1931 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the building is significant for its architecture with its unique octagonal tower overseeing the City's Eastside community. Two, one-story wings flank the three-story tower and extend along Calle Cesar Chavez and Montecito Streets.
Based on City Directories and a newspaper clipping, the building was first constructed on this site in 1917 as a Contractors Supply Warehouse for the cost of $5,000. In 1931, the construction of the main corner with the octagon tower was completed. In 1970, the 27,000 square foot building was sold for $140,000 to the Chicano Positive Movement that later became La Casa de la Raza.
La Casa de la Raza emerged from the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Chicano Movement involved many different organizations and political perspectives, including the United Farm Workers, the Brown Berets, the Crusade for Justice, La Raza Unida, and many others.
In Santa Barbara, Chicana/o community members and activists had long pushed for social change, as the city’s Mexican American residents were spatially segregated for decades, based on racial discrimination in housing, on the Eastside. These residents had organized for multiple generations, but it wasn’t until 1970/71 when a unique community- based, social justice organization known as La Casa de la Raza was established inside a former building materials warehouse/cement factory that includes a well-known iconic tower.
Click here to view the Historic Landmarks Commission's full report.