Archive » December 21, 2006
Eye on Santa Barbara
By John Watson
The University Club started informally as a group of men and women partaking in “motor tours” to various hiking trails and picnic spots along the South Coast. During World War I, many of its male members were lost, and the club disbanded. But in 1919 while meeting at the Potter Hotel, some of the original members, along with new recruits, decided that there should be a University Club in Santa Barbara.
Stock was sold to the membership for $30,000, and the property at 1332 Santa Barbara Street was purchased. At the time, an Elizabethan mansion originally built for J.W. Calkins, a vice president at the First National Gold Bank, stood on the property. When Calkins’s house was originally built, it was considered to have “unsurpassed beauty by any residence in the city,” but alas, time changes as do appreciated styles, and by 1919 it was considered a “horror” by the community at large. The club hired Soule, Murphy & Hastings, known for its high-end residential work, to tone down the building and to transform it into a Spanish Colonial Revival-style building. Wishing not to overstate their case, the architects concentrated their design statement at the front door, shown here, leaving the rest of the building as a backdrop. The club admitted women members in 1983 and the club is now used by many members of the community for social events and private parties.
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