Archive » July 20, 2006
Eye on Santa Barbara
By John Watson
The South Coast was a hinterland until 1887 when the Santa Paula Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad finally connected Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Elwood with Los Angeles. The reliable, safe, comfortable and comparatively inexpensive transportation mode transformed the remote backwater now considered by many to be the American Riviera into a wintering ground for the wealthy. But as early as 1871 William Whitney Stow, the legal counsel for Southern Pacific Railroad, understood the potential of the South Coast and purchased 1,043 acres of land for his son Sherman P. Stow. In 1973, Sherman and his bride Ida G. Hollister moved into their newly constructed Gothic Revival home. The home was extensively remodeled in both the 1880s and in the 1910s.
The South Coast is known today for its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, but prior to the 1925 earthquake that “wiped the slate clean,” much of the South Coast had the architectural character of most other newly constructed western towns, including the wildly popular Gothic Revival Style. Constructed mainly of wood, which was scarce on the South Coast, the Gothic Revival Style is characterized by high-pitched roofs, tall shuttered windows, octagonal bay windows and highly decorated eave boards, handrails and door moldings. The interiors had high ceilings, oftentimes decorated with pressed tin squares, and walls that were wainscoted below and wallpapered above.
The Stow House is currently in the middle of a restoration campaign to ensure that the flavor of a bygone era is maintained for present and future generations. Visitors are always welcome at their location on Los Carneros between Highway 101 and Cathedral Oaks.
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