Date of Award


Degree Name

MA in History




Dr. Matt Hopper


A number of books and articles have been written on the social movement to reimagine Southern California’s past in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While many of the pageants, parades, and public displays that defined this regional movement now reside in the pages of history, some architectural examples from this period are still visible today. In many cities, these examples are scattered throughout the community; while in others like Santa Barbara, they represent the centerpiece of the city’s architectural distinctiveness.

Santa Barbara’s architecture challenges urban scholars to successfully garner an accurate sense of the past. More importantly, such historic spaces divert attention away from the social efforts that led to their inception. This thesis charts the history of Santa Barbara’s architectural reinvention and how the stylistic proliferation influenced the way various generations would think about the city’s past. The renaissance in a uniform Spanish style not only inspired local beautification efforts but also historic preservation, which ultimately resulted in the creation of the El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District in 1960. Additionally, this narrative critically examines the area’s history prior to the district’s establishment to show how economic profitability guided city planning, beautification, tourism, and preservation toward the ultimate solidification of the town’s Spanish image.