Old Town Goleta Comparison 2

By Tom Modugno of Goleta History

A while back, we did a page comparing this photo of Old Town Goleta to today’s Old Town. We thought it was time to do some more comparisons, since the more things change…..the more Old Town stays the same. Happily. So let’s begin!

Above is the corner of Nectarine and Hollister in 2023, which houses small local businesses like El Rodeo Western Wear, Goodland Florist, Upholstery Décor and Goleta Hairstyles.

Here’s roughly the same view in 1930. We couldn’t get the exact angle because today there’s an auto parts store in the way. But you get the idea. Same buildings going strong almost 100 years later. This is a re-occurring theme in Old Town.

Here’s Tecolote and Hollister in 2023. A popular stretch with La Chapala Market, Domingos Cafe and Goleta Bakery.

About 1950, that same corner looked like this. This one’s a little tricky because if you look close you can see the corner in the foreground is a small vacant lot. That’s where La Chapala Market is today. Domingos was the Goleta Post office and the Goleta Bakery has been the Goleta Bakery for a long time!

Here’s a better view of the post office, with the vacant lot next door and the bakery on the left.

The Post Office today, a great breakfast spot known as Domingo’s. Next time you go in there, take some time to check out all the cool historic photos they have hanging on their walls.

Goleta Bakery has been making goodies for a long time at 5784 Hollister. Just look at that wedding cake!

They continue to bake goodies and they make good Mexican food as well.

In the 1950s, businesses between 5840 and 5858 Hollister were in what was called the “Marcus Building”. All small, locally owned businesses.

Today, we don’t call it the Marcus Building, but it really hasn’t changed, and it’s still full of small, locally owned businesses!

In 1961, the Marcus Building housed Goleta Stationery and Gift Shop at 5854 Hollister. This smiling entrepreneur was on top of the world because he had the only stationery game in town. He boasted a “Complete Line of Gifts”, and he was keeping it cutting edge with those “Contemporary Cards”. Hopefully they weren’t too racy…

Over half a century later, that same shop is now home to Mary’s Beauty Center and the red tile wall of the Marcus Building is still shining through.

Back in the day, Goleta Electric was the place to buy new electric appliances and to get them repaired when they broke. Televisions, radios, toasters, you know, stuff that people just throw away and replace nowadays…

In more recent years, Goleta Electric gave up on the retail side of business and focused on electrical repair. Some of the windows were covered up and the front door was closed in favor of a rear entry by the parking lot. The classic sign remained for a long time though.

Today it’s completely shuttered up and the classic sign is gone. The only unique characteristic left is the big false front.

In the 1960s, the Valley House was premier dining at 5918 Hollister. With that unique sign, cocktails and ample parking, I’m sure they did great business. Next door was the Valley House delicatessen and a mechanic. Some very chic architecture…

In the early 1970s, it got a major remodel. It got an all wood exterior, a unique rounded entrance, the building expanded both ways and it transformed into Hobey Bakers. A very popular spot to eat, drink and be merry.

One ad boasted that the waiters were popular with the girls, “very good looking” and “always willing to satisfy”. They also featured the hottest live music for years and is still fondly remembered by lots of locals to this day.

After that it was Alex’s Cantina for a long time, also a very popular spot. They had decent Mexican food and still had the occasional live band, but the 1980s brought disco, and DJs became the norm. Today, it is Pattaya Thai Restaurant. No more live music and we’re not sure if all the waiters are “very good looking”. Feel free to let us know.

Back in the day 5968 Hollister was Coffey’s Complete Market. Notice the unique roof line, because it is still there today.

At some point Coffey’s changed from a “complete market” to just a grocery, that also served lunch and cold drinks. Gotta love that old dog napping on the sidewalk.

They ran a regular ad in the local paper, the Goleta Valley Leader. Such a small town, none of the ads had addresses. How about these 1942 prices? And of course, S&H green stamps were available.

By 1960, the Arca Brothers changed the name to Fairway Market. Due to such a bad picture, we can’t tell what the boys are holding up. Watermelons?

Today 5968 Hollister is this little furniture store. Lots of things have changed, but the roof line stays the same. It’s been a furniture store for decades, in fact I bought all my “oak” furniture here as young man and I still use a lot of it.

Back in 1925, John Pico’s Blacksmith shop was right on Hollister, at 5960. Blacksmiths were in high demand in these agricultural times, always busy fabricating new and repairing old farm equipment, among other things.

John Pico was one of early Goleta’s upstanding citizens, and he was the constable for Goleta. (A constable was similar to a marshal today.) Pico built this shop in the early 1900s and in 1925, he sold it to another blacksmith, Jim Smith. Pico retired to his home on south Patterson where he lived until his death in 1958.

Jim Smith tore down the old shop and built a new, larger building for his blacksmith business. Smith was the last of Goleta’s old fashioned village blacksmiths.

Smith was a talented craftsman and his service to the farmers and all the citizens of Goleta was greatly appreciated. In his spare time, he wrote a historic column in the little Goleta newspaper.

During WW II, Smith ran a regular ad in the paper, usually urging farmers to get their equipment repaired while spare parts were still available. The war effort affected every walk of life.

Some of Smith’s finest handiwork still exists at the Tecolote Ranch Estate. His beautiful and extremely well built wrought iron fences, gates and fixtures are still functional today, nearly 100 years after being made. He was an artist with a hammer and anvil.

Smith made a living at 5960 Hollister for 25 years and then he sold the shop and retired to his ranch up in Glen Annie Canyon. Just before his retirement, he was awarded the first ever, Goleta “Man of the Year” award, in1948.

Walter Parry bought the blacksmith building in 1949 and made it into a family run furniture and appliance store.

In 2023, Jim Smith’s old blacksmith shop is a very popular thrift store called Destined For Grace.

Down the street at 5744 Hollister is a very popular sushi restaurant called Goleta Sushi House. Well maintained and always busy, it is one of the gems of Old Town Goleta and we recommend it highly.

When you visit them, pause at the front door and look up. You’ll see a sign from Goleta’s past that has miraculously survived all the years of paint and maintenance. It reads, “Justice Court- Goleta- Hope Ranch”.

Upon closer inspection, you can read, “I.S. Steve Austin, Constable”. Obviously, we were intrigued. The only Steve Austin we knew of was the Bionic Man. So we dug deeper.

We found out that I.S. “Steve” Austin was a veteran of WW I and had a long career in police work. Austin was a city policeman in Daytona Beach, Florida, a Deputy Sheriff in Cass County, Missouri, and an operative of Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency in Kansas City, Missouri. He moved to Goleta in 1930, and in 1946 he became a Constable in Goleta. While here he held positions on several boards and organizations and was a delegate for Santa Barbara County at the Constables State Convention. Steve was also in the American Legion, a member of the Elks Lodge, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, he was a Mason and a Charter member of the Lions Club. And somehow he still found time to be a husband to his wife Anna, and they lived happily at 70 Orange Avenue.

As you can see, Austin was community minded, to say the least. In 1950, he was a board member of the Sanitary District and he was in the front row to see the first sewer permit being issued to the President of the Chamber of Commerce.

We aren’t sure where the previous office was, but in 1951 he was moved to his new location at 5744 Hollister. I wonder what these two distinguished gentlemen would think if we told them 50 years later people would be eating raw fish in this office….and loving it!

In 1954 he was instrumental in the formation of the Goleta Valley Safety Council. There he is in the front row again! He was praised by local officials for his “groundwork in creating local interest in safety”. They did important work like reminding bus drivers to use their flashing red lights when unloading kids on Hollister Avenue.

Now here’s a life lesson for us all, you can’t possibly be in that many organizations and still be getting enough rest. Steve went down with a bout of “near-pneumonia” in 1954. Surely he was just plain exhausted!

Lucky for the citizens of Goleta, Steve was OK by Christmas and was able to put this lovely yuletide greeting in the local paper.

Today, Austin’s old office is filled with happy people eating and living the good life in Goleta, thanks to Vinh and her friendly staff.

There’s more than what meets the eye in today’s Old Town Goleta. After all, it’s not often that a nearly 100 year old commercial district remains so vibrant. It’s one of the few California towns that is still affordable enough to allow bold entrepreneurs to take a chance on their dream. Let’s hope things stay that way….

Sources: Walker Tompkins, Goleta Valley Historical Society, UCSB, Goleta Valley Leader


Written by tMo

Tom Modugno is a local business owner, surfer, writer, and community activist. He also runs GoletaHistory.com and GoletaSurfing.com

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