montecito - a world-class community

Montecito TrailsSanta BarbaraRoughly translated, "Montecito" means "little woods". At the time of the Spanish settlers, this was an area of magnificent oak groves full of grizzly bears and wolf packs. Father Junipero Serra had originally staked out a location for the Santa Barbara Mission on what is presently Hot Springs Road. However, his predecessor, Father Lauseen, chose to move the mission to its present spot closer to the protection of the Presidio and its soldiers.

It was these soldiers who were the first non-native inhabitants of Montecito. Facing retirement and with their wages at times 20 to 30 years in arrears, the government awarded the soldiers 50 acre plots in what became known as "Old Spanish Town". Tired of the trek to Santa Barbara and the mission, they built their own adobe chapel (Mt. Carmel) in 1857.

Chumash Indian hot springSanta BarbaraThe first American settler was an ailing 49er, Wilbur Curtiss, who was restored to health after "taking the waters" at a 100-year-old Chumash Indian hot spring (still in existence) which he homesteaded in 1855. A wave of American settlers started arriving in 1958. It was a buyer's market. Newton M. Coats bought a farm on what is now Birnam Wood Country Club for 75 cents an acre. They soon built a U.S. Post Office, an American village at the corner of East Valley and San Ysidro and the area's first protestant churches, El Montecito Presbyterian (1887) and All-Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal (1869).

Around the 1900's more and more wealthy Easterners were drawn to the Montecito area by its incomparable scenery and climate. They began developing the fabulous estate on the occupied hilltops overlooking Montecito's beautiful woodlands. It was an opulent life-style brought down by a combination of the 1914 income tax law, the stock market crash of 1929, and the rising cost of servants. Many gorgeous estates still exist today.

Butterfly BeachSanta BarbaraRecreation opportunities are abundant. The Montecito Trails Association has established a wealth of trails available to hikers and horseback riders. Butterfly Beach across from the Santa Barbara Biltmore boasts incredible views especially at sunset and 12-acre Manning Park provides picnic and barbecue areas, a softball field, tennis courts horseshoe pits, two children's playground areas and a community building.

There are three private golf courses which also have social memberships: Birnam Wood, The Valley Club, and the Montecito Country Club. For tennis buffs, there are the public tennis courts off Old Coast Highway and the exclusive Knollwood Tennis Club. Many Montecitans can be found at the Montecito YMCA in either the lap pool, Jacuzzi, aerobic classes, nautilus room or the track.

Exclusive boutiques and quaint shops along with lots of other specialized stores can be found in the Upper Montecito Village and along Coast Village Road. The area along with Santa Barbara is renowned for its superb restaurants. With Santa Barbara and all its cultural, recreations and civic organizations, nearby Montecito is truly a very special place to live!

Montecito Village