924 Anacapa Street
Designation Status: Designated City Landmark
Assessor Parcel Number: 029-291-018
Historic Name: Margaret Baylor Inn/Lobero Building
Four story, hipped clay tile roof, smooth stucco walls, deeply recessed openings. The Building has French doors with wrought iron balconies, Corinthian pilasters on the 4th floor. First floor has three arched openings with fanlights.
Architect: Julia Morgan
Architectural Style: Italian Mediterranean Style
Original Use: Hotel
This Italian Mediterranean building is a City Landmark and eligible for listing in the California Register of Historic Resources eligible. In 1926, the Lobero Building won a prize as the most beautiful Spanish Building in America (SB News Press, 1977). Eligible as a Structure of Merit. Constructed in 1926 in the Italian Mediterranean style.
Historic Context and Architect Julia Morgan:
When the earthquake of 1925 occurred, the Santa Barbara Community Arts Association viewed the disaster as an opportunity to rebuild the downtown in definitive Spanish Colonial Revival, Mediterranean, and Mission styles, which reflect the unique heritage of the City. In 1926, architect Julia Morgan was able to design a classical, formal building in the Italian Mediterranean style with Spanish Colonial Revival detailing that fit with the vision of the Santa Barbara Community Arts Association.
Below is an excerpt from an article written by Michael Redmon for the Santa Barbara Independent in 2009 that illustrates the history and importance of Julia Morgan and the Margaret Baylor Inn/Lobero Building.
Julia Morgan was a trailblazer in her chosen field of architecture. She was one of the first women to receive an engineering degree from the University of California, (Berkley in 1894) and was the first woman to earn an architectural degree from L’École Nationale et Spéciale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Part of a highly distinguished career, her most famous work is the immense complex she designed for William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon. She also left her mark in Santa Barbara.
Morgan was born in 1872 in San Francisco and grew up in Oakland. Torn among careers in music, medicine, and architecture, she chose the last and enrolled at UC Berkeley in 1890. There, she studied with Bernard Maybeck, known for his arts and crafts building designs. Maybeck urged her to apply to the L’École Nationale et Spéciale des Beaux-Arts. On her third try, she placed 13th out of more than 300 in the competitive examinations. She became the first woman architecture student at this prestigious school. While Morgan was in Paris, Maybeck introduced her to Phoebe Hearst, William Hearst’s mother. The Hearst family connection would prove all-important to Morgan’s future. After graduation, she returned to the Bay Area. She worked on the Hearst Memorial Mining Building and the Greek Theater, both on the UC Berkeley campus, before opening her own firm in 1904. Commissions flowed into her office after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire; she designed the Fairmont Hotel at this time. In 1919, Morgan began her work at San Simeon, a project that would engage her for 30 years.
Her first South Coast commission was for a 3,000-square-foot ballroom for the Montecito estate, The Peppers, completed in 1917, which made use of redwood, mahogany, and oak, and featured a magnificent fireplace. In 1918, she designed a tuberculosis clinic for children on North San Antonio Road.
In 1925, she was hired to design the Margaret Baylor Inn in Santa Barbara. Baylor was a major figure in the settlement house movement and had worked with Jane Adams at Hull House in Chicago. Baylor wanted to build a hotel for young professional women at 924 Anacapa Street. She died in 1924, but, under the leadership of Pearl Chase, money was raised to see the project through. Morgan arrived in Santa Barbara early on the morning of June 29, 1925, plans in hand, to meet with the building committee. She was here just in time for the great 1925 earthquake.
As she waited for the streetcar to take her up State Street, the earthquake struck. As she fell to her knees, she saw clouds of dust envelop the downtown thoroughfare. She grabbed a gunny sack from a nearby ice wagon to protect her head, which brought a shout of protest from the wagon’s owner. She spent a good part of the morning viewing the damage, noting which buildings best survived. “I spent hours among the buildings: it was a great practical experience,” she said.
Construction of the Margaret Baylor Inn began in March 1926 and was completed a year later. The 105-bed hostel was Mediterranean in style and Morgan employed swans as a unifying stylistic motif. The inn went through some rough financial times and, after foreclosure in 1942, the property passed through a number of hands. Today, as the Lobero Building, it holds a variety of offices.
The earthquake provided Morgan with a second commission. The city gymnasium, adjacent to the Recreation Center on East Carrillo Street, had been badly damaged, and Morgan was retained to design a new one. Her Spanish Colonial Revival concept fitted in nicely with the city’s new architectural guidelines for the downtown area. She placed handball and tennis courts on the roof. The gym continues to serve the populace today, and is a City Landmark (Redman 2009).
In 2014, Morgan’s efforts finally were recognized with the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. This was the first time the award has been given to a woman. Morgan, the first female architect to be licensed by the state of California, oversaw more than 700 built projects during her career, or an average of 15 per year between the time she founded her San Francisco office in 1904 and her decision to close it in 1951, when she was 79 years old. Geographically, the California projects ranged from the Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles to Wyntoon in the north. Her most famous work was the Hearst Castle. Morgan designed several buildings William Randolph Hearst. Morgan’s specialties included private houses as well as YWCAs and other women’s clubs in several California cities, as a loose group of well-connected women around the state gave her support and work throughout her career.
Italian Mediterranean Style
The four-story building was designed in the Italian Mediterranean style, featuring a formal symmetry on the façade with Roman arched openings on the first floor and symmetrically aligned windows. The massing is formal with the low-pitched, hipped roof, covered in terra cotta tiles; deep, overhanging eaves; and stucco walls. The south elevation features a recessed portion that allows for a brick courtyard lined with camellias and allows light into the interior units.
The Period Revival movement encompassed a diverse range of architectural influences, such as Tudor, French Norman, Spanish, Italian Renaissance, Italian Mediterranean, American Colonial, and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. An important part of Santa Barbara’s architecture repertoire is the Italian Mediterranean style that pre-dates the Spanish Colonial Revival and was key to Santa Barbara’s spirit as the new American Riviera. Having both the climate and geography similar to the coastal hill towns of the Italian Riviera, Santa Barbara embraced the Italian Villa as architecture and garden design well suited to the Santa Barbara lifestyle. As interpreted by early twentieth century architects, the Italian Mediterranean style drew heavily from the architectural heritage of Renaissance Spain and Italy. Stylistic characteristics of the Mediterranean style include: an overall symmetry to the massing and façade of the building; arched openings and symmetrically aligned windows; low-pitched, hipped roof, covered in terra cotta tiles; deep, overhanging eaves with wood rafters and stucco walls as demonstrated by the Margaret Baylor Inn.
Original landscape drawings were not found in the research of the building. However, based on early photographs of the building and the maturity of existing plants, the following are landscape features noted as contributing, significant landscape features of the building.
1. The Italian Cypress Tree
2. The Agave and yucca gloriosa plants
3. The camellias in the south courtyard.
4. Cocculus laurifolius -Platter-Leaf Shrub in the north court yard.
5. Tall palms off of the south courtyard elevation
6. Bougainvillea climbing three stories on west elevation
The City of Santa Barbara defines historic significance as outlined by the Municipal Code, Section 22.22.040. It is the opinion of the Historic Landmarks Commission Designations Subcommittee that the Margaret Baylor Inn is an excellent candidate for City Landmark designation per the following six criteria:
Criterion A. Its character, interest or value as a significant part of the heritage of the City, the State or the Nation
This building is an excellent example of the Italian Mediterranean style, which became an important part of Santa Barbara’s heritage in the 1920s, when the City deliberately transformed its architecture and look from an ordinary western style town into a romantic Spanish Colonial Revival city. This transformation was the result of the planning vision of a number of Santa Barbara citizens in the early 1920s with the founding of the Santa Barbara Community Arts Association, which urged that the town to identify its individual character and then use planning principles to develop it. As an original 1926-27, Italian Mediterranean structure designed by one of the nation’s most noted architects, it qualifies as a City Landmark because it is a significant part of the heritage of the City.
Criterion C. Its identification with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the culture and development of the City, the State or the Nation
The building is associated with Margaret Baylor. Baylor wanted to build a hotel for young professional women at 924 Anacapa Street. She died in 1924, but under the leadership of Pearl Chase, money was raised to see the project through.
Criterion D. Its exemplification of a particular architectural style or way of life important to the City, the State, or the Nation
The building embodies distinguishing characteristics of the Italian Mediterranean style, which is an important architectural style of Santa Barbara. The massing is formal with a low-pitched, hipped roof covered in terra cotta tiles; deep, overhanging eaves; stucco walls; Roman arched openings on the first floor; symmetrically aligned windows; and an open loggia with ornate stone capitals on the columns of the 4th floor.
Between 1922 and 1925, several major cultural buildings within the downtown core were built using the architectural motif of the City’s Colonial and Mexican past. As a result, when the earthquake occurred in 1925, the Community Arts Association viewed the disaster as an opportunity to rebuild the downtown in Spanish Colonial Revival, Mediterranean, and Mission styles that reflect the heritage of the city. Morgan’s training in the Beaux Arts style gives the Margaret Baylor Inn formality and symmetry excellently translated to the Italian Mediterranean style. The building demonstrates Julia Morgan’s talent to create a special piece of architecture particularly suited Santa Barbara. Her classical style building is adorned with details and materials that reflect the heritage of Santa Barbara, as seen in the Spanish Colonial Revival-inspired ironwork that has a complex interplay between the curvilinear and rectangular.
Criterion F. Its identification as the creation, design or work of a person or persons whose effort has significantly influenced the heritage of the City, the State or the Nation
The building was designed by Julia Morgan, who was one of the most important architects of her time. In 2014, Morgan’s efforts finally were recognized with the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. This was the first time the award has been given to a woman. Morgan, the first female architect to be licensed by the state of California, oversaw more than 700 built projects during her career.
Criterion G. Its embodiment of elements demonstrating outstanding attention to architectural design, detail, materials and craftsmanship
The building’s composition, massing, and simplicity are exemplary elements of design. The building’s south elevation employs recessed portion of the elevation to allow for a courtyard lined with camellias while allowing light into the interior units. The intersecting hipped rooflines of the terra-cotta tile roof demonstrate outstanding attention to detail and material. The brackets under the iron balcony have a flower blooming at the end of the curvilinear spear. This demonstrates how Morgan designed Spanish Colonial Revival-inspired ironwork that has a complex interplay between the curvilinear and rectangular. The swans featured in the intricate stone work of the column capitals, the front and courtyard grills and keystone over the front entrance on the front elevation is a unifying stylistic motif on the building demonstrating outstanding attention to detail, materials and stone craftsmanship.
Criterion I. Its unique location or singular physical characteristic representing an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood;
The landscape elements are found to be significant to the site as representing established and familiar visual features of the neighborhood:
Integrity is the ability of a property to convey its original appearance. There are essential physical features that must be considered to evaluate the integrity of a significant building. Since 1926-27, the building’s location, setting, association, and feeling have not changed. The original design, materials, and workmanship have been retained so that the building conveys its original 1926-27 appearance and intent of the original architect. Thus, the building has retained a high level of historical integrity.
Staff and the HLC Designation Subcommittee recommend that the HLC adopt a resolution recommending that City Council designate the Margaret Baylor Inn/Lobero building as a City Landmark. Staff recommends the proposed boundary of the City Landmark designation be the entire parcel.
Hawthorn, Christine. “Gold Medal: Julia Morgan.” Journal of the American Institute of Architects. June 23, 2013. Web: May 16, 2017.
Redmon, Michael. “What Buildings Did Architect Julia Morgan Design in Santa Barbara? A Trailblazer in the Field, Morgan Designed Four Buildings on the South Coast.” Santa Barbara Independent. November 3, 2009. Web: May 16, 2017.
Photographic Archives. California History Section Picture Catalog Collections, California State Library. www.calisphere.org.