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1301 1303 A State Street

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Designation Status: Designated City Landmark

Assessor Parcel Number: 039-131-013, 014, 015

Historic Name: Christian Science Reading Room

Constructed: 1951

Property Description:

The Kem Weber building has the following character-defining features of a Streamline Moderne building: a curved, corner-facing entrance with glazed set of doors; Streamline Moderne style neon signage that follows the curve of the integrated canopy, a the horizontal vector line created by the canopy trimmed with aluminum; the solid stucco-clad parapet that extends the length of the State Street façade; the one-story front elevation with horizontal emphasis; the white predominant color; exposed brushed concrete; and stepped, diagonal-cut, aluminum framed windows and doors.

Architect: Kem Weber

Architectural Style: Streamline Moderne

Property Type: Commercial

Original Use: Commercial, Christian Science Reading Room


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 Kem Weber building 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
Designed by noted designer Kem Weber and architect, Roy Cheesman in 1950, the building is a postwar interpretation of the Streamline Moderne style. Completed in 1951, the building complex was Weber’s last commercial commission. It is the only example in Santa Barbara of his postwar commercial work. Exemplary of the Streamline Moderne style, it is an important and rare example of Modernism in Santa Barbara.

Criterion D. Its exemplification of a particular architectural style or way of life important to the City, the State, or the Nation
The Kem Weber building represents a rare postwar example of the Streamline Moderne in Santa Barbara. The building has the character-defining features of the Streamline Moderne style, including a reductive, minimalist scheme; curvilinear façade and canopy; and industrial style building materials.

Criterion E. Its exemplification of the best remaining architectural type in a neighborhood
The building is the only example of Streamline Moderne style architecture on State Street and one of few in the City of Santa Barbara.

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 the internationally renowned industrial and interior designer Kem Weber, one of the few Modernists to successfully practice in Santa Barbara. Weber enjoyed an international reputation as a purveyor of avant garde design. The reductive quality of Weber’s scheme for the State Street building typifies his preference for the machine aesthetic in the postwar period.

Criterion G. Its embodiment of elements demonstrating outstanding attention to architectural design, detail, materials and craftsmanship
The Kem Weber building employs brushed concrete walls, neon signage, aluminum-framed windows and doors, a curving canopy and corner that are excellent examples of mid-twentieth-century Modernist commercial design and attention to detail.

Criterion I. Its unique location or singular physical characteristic representing an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood
As a unique and singular example of Streamline Moderne style architecture on the prominent corner lot of State and Victoria Streets in Santa Barbara, the Kem Weber building has been a familiar visual feature of the neighborhood since 1951. The original neon signage reading “Christian Science Reading Room” is a familiar characteristic that establishes the familiar feature of the neighborhood.

Historic Integrity:
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. The exterior of the building has undergone no significant alterations since its construction. It has retained almost all of its original fabric and most of its architectural detailing. The building has undergone relatively few alterations, and with the exception of the removal of a detached planter in front of the building at 1301 State Street, the three buildings still reflect their original plan and design. Because the building retains its integrity of location, design, setting, materials, and workmanship, it can convey the post-World War II period in which it was built. Thus, the building has retained a high level of historical integrity.

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