Behind the Sandstone Wall

Address Changes but Charm Remains

Credit: Betsy J. Green
By: Betsy J. Green

Address: 610 East De la Guerra Street

Originally Published in The Santa Barbara Independent

Link to original article here:

A knee-high sandstone wall surrounds the one-story cottage at 610 East De la Guerra Street. The main entrance is highlighted with a modest Greek-revival-style porch that is framed by two large windows ornamented with leaded-glass panels. However, when the home was built in 1913, the main entrance was on Salsipuedes Street. Like the home at 610 East Victoria Street that I wrote about in June, the home’s address was changed in the 1980s. The address was originally 736 Salsipuedes Street.

The stone wall is not original to the home, but it’s fitting for a home built by Italian immigrants since much of the stonework in Santa Barbara was created by them. According to historian Erin Graffy in a 1995 article in Noticias, the “Eastside Italians” settled in the area “bounded approximately by Milpas, Haley, State, and Anapamu.… Some had no family, they knew no one in town, they did not know the language. But all arrived here willing to work hard to make a fresh start, to embark on a new life. They won friends, married, had children, built profitable businesses, launched successful careers. Most of all, the Italians of Santa Barbara earned the respect and affection of their community and became a valued and integral part of the everyday life of their adopted home.”

Credit: Betsy J. Green

A Cozy Family Home

Giovanni Menegon left Italy in 1910, and by 1913, he and his family were living at 736 North Salsipuedes. Giovanni and his wife, Amabile Menegon, raised nine children here. He was a gardener and owned a dairy. In addition, Giovanni found time to serve as a councilman in Santa Barbara’s Italian Benevolent Society. 


To again quote Graffy, “It is not difficult to see why Santa Barbara was selected by the Italians as their destination in the U.S. The terrain and the inviting climate prompted the sons of Italy to stay here, and many immigrants remarked how much Santa Barbara reminded them of their homeland…. When we admire the fabulous stone walls throughout the upper Eastside, Mission Canyon, and the Riviera, we see evidence of the Italian stone masons of yesteryear.”

Several generations of the Menegon family lived on the property as the decades rolled on. By 1930, two grandsons were also living here. One of them — Serifo John Menegon — became a successful architect and practiced in Santa Barbara for 40 years. Members of the Menegon family lived in the home until it was sold in 1958. Several other families lived in the home after that.

A Change of Address

In 1988, David Sampanis bought the home, and it was he who asked that the address be changed to 610 East De la Guerra. He told me that he felt it was a more desirable name than Salsipuedes. “De la Guerra runs to historic downtown and is associated with that architecture and history, whereas Salsipuedes is associated with the industrial part of town. The translation of Salsipuedes didn’t help — as you know it means ‘Get out if you can,’ so I could and I did.… It seemed like a free upgrade to the value of the home.”

Sampanis enjoyed his time in the home. “It was overall a very pleasant place to live…. I enjoyed being so close to downtown and being able to bike most places.”

Today the home is owned by Leah and Kip Evert-Burks. “The house has obviously had many updates, but we still find it charming…. It’s little, but we love it. We bought it back in 1996 and raised our two kids here.” She added that she had once seen a 1920s photo of Santa Barbara that showed their home. “It was one of the only houses in this area at that time.” They built the sandstone wall as one of several upgrades that they have made to the house.

Please do not disturb the home’s residents.