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Hotel Santa Barbara History

We Are Pleased to Continue the Tradition

Hotel Santa Barbara continues a grand tradition begun in 1876 when the City of Santa Barbara was still a sleepy pueblo. Since those early days, a hotel has always been located on the site now occupied by Hotel Santa Barbara.

In 1925, a major earthquake destroyed much of downtown Santa Barbara, including the spacious Santa Barbara Hotel. Vowing never to lose another building to an earthquake, the owner constructed a new hotel, the Saint Barbara, to specifications far exceeding those required at that time. Apparently the Saint Barbara was not always quite a saint. Local legend has it that liquor was always available in the hotel during Prohibition, and that for years, a “secret” gaming room flourished somewhere near the lobby. The Saint Barbara eventually became The Barbara Hotel and a getaway for many of Hollywood’s brightest stars. Following World War II, the area and the aging hotel’s popularity gradually declined and eventually the doors closed to Hollywood’s celebrities and travelers from around the world.

The hotel wasn’t reopened until the late 1960’s, and in 1975 was purchased by Rolland and Venetia Jacks. With the help of their children they revitalized the hotel and for many years served both residential and leisure guests. By the mid 1990’s the Old Town area in which the hotel is located had improved so dramatically that the Jacks concluded it was time for a major renovation. The hotel closed for renovation in November 1996 emerging nine months and $4 million later as a reborn classic…Hotel Santa Barbara.