Impressive Adobe Overlooking Cliff Drive

Impressive Adobe Overlooking Cliff Drive

By: Betsy J. Green
 

Address: 1528 Cliff Drive

Originally Published in The Santa Barbara Independent

Link to original article here: https://www.independent.com/2020/10/08/impressive-adobe-overlooking-cliff-drive/

 

It is easy to miss this home as you cruise along the Mesa’s main thoroughfare. It sits above the road, surrounded by lush greenery. But it’s worth slowing down and looking up the hill at this high-style Spanish-Colonial Revival house. In addition to the colorful flowers in the gardens, it has been home to several colorful residents in its 95 years of existence.

       This home is one of five adobes built on either side of La Vista del Oceano, on the north side of Cliff Drive in the mid-1920s. Fred Roskop was the builder. He had lived in Mexico for several years where he learned adobe construction before he settled in Santa Barbara in 1919. In addition to building homes, he was responsible for building the adobe Monterey-style Mihran Building at 17-21 East Carrillo Street.

Courtesy of Wally Ronchietto

Adobe bricks usually measure 20 x 12 x 4 inches, are made of mud, water, and plant materials, and then dried in the sun. But by the 1920s, the traditional method of mixing the ingredients was no longer used. “The time-honored method of working the binder into the mud … is for the workmen to divest themselves of shoes and socks and work the mud with their bare feet. This method is not employed in the present instance, however … the earth is full of pieces of glass and other sharp objects which would play havoc with unprotected soles.” (Santa Barbara Morning Press, January 19, 1922)

The home’s first owners were Thomas G. and Frances E. Ross. Thomas was in the car business, and he also owned a couple of the nearby oil wells. At first, I was shocked by the proximity of the oil well in the old photo. But I suppose if you are pumping money out of the ground, those oil derricks can start to look attractive.

       Before the oil derricks sprouted up on the Mesa in the 1920s, the area was mostly farmland punctuated by a picturesque lighthouse (near today’s La Mesa Park), and the Dibblee mansion (near present-day Santa Barbara City College). The area where the 1528 Cliff Drive home sits today was a 50-acre farm that George and Emma Gaylord bought for $1,000 in 1868. At the time, Cliff Drive was simply called Mesa Road, and was the only access to the Mesa. An article in the local paper stated, “Mr. Geo. Gaylord’s farm … yields abundantly barley, corn and squashes.” (Santa Barbara Weekly Press, June 4, 1881) The Gaylord’s neighbor on the west was Peveril Meigs. George Gaylord died in 1923, and that’s about when Fred Roskop bought the property along Cliff Drive.

Images by Betsy J. Green

The second owners were the Adams family. No, not the Addams Family from TV. They were Charles and Rachel Adams. Rachel was famous as Madame Rosinka, who had her office on Stearns Wharf where she specialized in palm, tarot card, and psychic readings. The Adams owned the home from 1962 to 2011, when they sold to Wally Ronchietto. He is the third and current owner. Wally is an Argentinian who presided over Santa Barbara’s Café Buenos Aires from 1997 to 2011.

Many historical records are unavailable now, and have been for six months, because of the COVID-19 lockdown. The closure of city offices, county offices, and libraries ​— ​while necessary ​— ​makes it hard for house detectives. Some of the information in this month’s column came from a report done by the Post/Hazeltine team for an assessment to designate this home as a City of Santa Barbara Structure of Merit. 

The Post/Hazeltine research team revealed that this home has had multiple house numbers over the years. This can make it difficult to untangle a home’s history. Fortunately, the website for the Gledhill Library at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum has Sanborn maps and city directories (old phone books) available on their website.

Please do not disturb the residents of 1528 Cliff Drive.

Impossible Objects: Screen Prints by Ed Lister

MM Rainbow by Ed Lister

Impossible Objects: Screen Prints by Ed Lister

March 13 – May 6, 2021
Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara Gallery

MM Rainbow by Ed Lister

The AFSB Art Gallery at the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara is pleased to announce the opening of Impossible Objects, an exhibition of vibrant, abstract silkscreen prints, or serigraphs, by Ed Lister.  

Visitors are invited to view the exhibition on Saturdays, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, March 13 through May 6, 2021, and weekdays by appointment (call 805-965-6307).  The artist will be present on the first and last days of the exhibition,  March 13 & May 6.  (Self-screening, masks, and social distancing are required.)

Ed Lister, known in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara as a skilled scenic artist, created this series of “impossible objects” in the early 1970s while teaching printmaking at the Chelsea School of Art in London.  After teaching art for twelve years, Lister moved to California.  Starting in the mid-70s he worked for ten years as the lead scenic artist for the Center Theatre Group at the Taper and Ahmanson Theaters in Los Angeles. Subsequently, he painted backdrops and installations as wide as 400 feet for TV, movies, and destination resorts, hotels, and casinos.   

More recently Lister was commissioned to paint a 60 feet-wide mural encircling the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery of the Santa Barbara Courthouse that depicts our perception of time and various ways of recording it (http://www.bisnoschallgallery.com).  Although he loved working on such a large scale, Lister now paints more modest-sized images concerned with iridescent and reflective seascapes and skies. 

Created fifty years ago, these striking, hand-pulled prints play with our contemporary sensibilities and logical brains in their resemblances to imaginative digital images. Of all the printing techniques, Lister most relished executing screened images with areas of pure color put down in a clean and direct manner.  In this series, he created improbable, mind-bending objects that cannot exist other than on a flat surface.  Intrigued by their bold colors and shapes, our eyes are lured in, then our assumptions of reality are challenged.

The Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara has been dedicated to expanding our community’s appreciation of the built environment since 1983. The AFSB Gallery is located in the historic Acheson House at the corner of Garden and East Victoria Streets in Santa Barbara. Regular gallery hours are Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm and weekdays by appointment.