Oscar William Massee and his wife, Emma, built the home in 1912 for $1,000. Their property included a barn with a hayloft. E.J. Moody was the contractor.
Massee was a respected plumber. “Fully cognizant of conditions in the modern commercial world and possessing the energy and resourcefulness necessary to cope with them, Oscar William Massee has become one of the successful businessmen of Santa Barbara … [together with his wife,] their attractive home has been the scene of many enjoyable social events.” —History of Santa Barbara County, California, Michael James Phillips, 1927. The local paper added, “Mr. Massee’s shop at 9 East Cota Street has a complete stock and all equipment for doing plumbing and fitting with dispatch.”
The home probably contained top-of-the-line plumbing fixtures. A 1912 book about plumbing lists the five most popular materials used at that time: porcelain, enameled iron, vitreous ware, marble, and soapstone. Surprisingly, porcelain was considered the most expensive.
In the 1940s, Ellen M. Erving, a nurse with the Visiting Nurses Association, was the owner of the home. In 2010, her grandson and his wife knocked on the front door and explained that he had lived in the house as a boy. The McKinneys showed the couple around the home and gave them some ceramic knobs from the attic as souvenirs.
The McKinneys and Steve Dowty are founding members of Santa Barbara’s Bungalow Haven Neighborhood Association, located between the Santa Barbara Bowl and Alameda Park. The McKinneys are keen to preserve their home’s character. Cheri said, “We did a lot of research in bungalow books and magazines and finally settled on the warm complementary accent colors [on the exterior] to add a little historic feel and emphasis to the interesting detailing and features of the house.” Their goal is to avoid the “bungled bungalow.”