|Santa Paula, California
A vanishing way of life in the midst of 21st century
by: John Chamberlain
(Santa Paula, California)
Some 70 minutes and 70 years from Los Angeles is the singular
city of Santa Paula. This is a place warmed by year round
sunshine, enfolded by the mountains and by the last great citrus
greenbelts of Southern California. Small town charm, rich in
history and only 10 minutes from the Pacific.
Amidst the dash and splash of contemporary
California, Santa Paula's downtown is a pleasant surprise. There
are no strip malls, billboards or cookie-cutter chain stores
Historic Downtown Santa
Visitors can peacefully stroll through its old
fashioned streets lined with Queen Ann and Victorian style homes.
Craftsman-era residences also add to the architectural diversity of this
charming town. Historic Main Street offers a glimpse of buildings dating
from the late 1800's
There are a variety of attractions for Santa Paula
The Santa Paula Oil Museum-
This beautifully restored Queen Ann -Italianate style
building was built in 1890 by Union Oil Company. The Santa Paula Oil
museum tells the story of the 'black bonanza' that created wealth, work
and prosperity for generations of Californians. The museum highlights
the inner workings of the state's 'black gold' industry through
interactive displays videos, working models, games, photographs,
restored gas station memorabilia and an authentic turn of the century
cable tool drilling rig. Visitors can see how the Chumash Indians used
natural oil seeps, watch a miniature-drilling rig bore into the earth
and experience the excitement of 'wildcatting' for petroleum.
National Register of Historic Places #8600249.
California Historical Landmark#996.Ventura County Historical
Landmark#36. California Oil Museum (805) 933-0076.
The Santa Paula Murals-
Throughout the downtown core, visitors can view a series of brilliant
murals that celebrate Santa Paula's singular place in California
History. The murals provide a vivid introduction to the town's rich
multicultural history by some of our nation's most accomplished
Our First Inhabitants: The Chumash Indians-
The artist, Ann Thiermann, researched this mural by
hiking to the historic site of the Chumash village, Sisa, in the
foothills above Santa Paula and listening to local Chumash culture
bearers. The artist created a dialog between a grandmother of today and
her granddaughter sharing the story of the life of the Chumash, from
their experience during the Mission period back thousands of years to
life in the village of Sisa along the Santa Paula Creek.
Transport in Time & Place: Trains, Planes &
This mural centers on the historic Southern Pacific
Depot, built in 1887, illustrating the many activities relating to the
use of the railroad. Panels depict U.S. President Benjamin Harrison's
train stop in Santa Paula in 1891, a 1937 Hudson coupe, a 1934 Dodge
Panel Truck, a 1931 Indian motorcycle, and lemons from Limoneira being
loaded on boxcars.
Santa Paula Artists and Architects-
Since the 1890s Santa Paula has been home to many
talented artists and architects whose works and presence have enriched
not only Santa Paula but the state and nation as well. Among them are
Jessie Arms Botke and her husband Cornelis Botke whose works are
featured in the Smithsonian. Douglas Shively, a contemporary of the
Botkes specialized in local landscapes. Robert Clunie, also a plein air
painter, became known for his paintings of the Sierras. Photographer
Horace Bristol attained national recognition for his Depression era
photos where he worked for Life Magazine documenting the conditions of
migrant workers along with John Steinbeck.
Santa Paula's first architect/builder was Herman
Anlauf who designed the landmark Faulkner House in 1894 with Franklin
Ward. Roy C. Wilson's architectural firm spanned over 50 years and was
the most prolific in Ventura County. Many architects got their start
here including Robert Raymond and John Stroh. Raymond became best known
for the Masonic Lodge built in 1930 and John Stroh for his design of
Saint Sebastian's Church in 1951.
Santa Paula Family Farms-
The small family farms seen all around us today on the
outskirts of Santa Paula are a testament to the hard work of the early
pioneer families and workers. Here you see the evolution of agriculture
from the 1880s to the 1930s.
Santa Paula Citrus Capital of the World-
This mural highlights a 60-year span (1880-1940) of
the citrus industry in Santa Paula. The first in 1900 shows Japanese,
Anglo and Hispanic field workers harvesting lemons. The second shows
Nathan Blanchard, founder of Santa Paula and his packinghouse, the third
pays tribute to all Latino pickers who have harvested citrus over the
years. The fourth, the 1940s shows the significant role of women in the
packinghouses, including those whose families fled the terrible
'dustbowl' conditions sweeping thought the mid-west in the 1930s.
Main Street Santa Paula-
This mural reflects Main Street as the vital center of
the growing town, which was founded in 1875. Main Street served as the
social, educational and religious center of town. Vignettes include the
Blanchard Library and El Brilliante Market, the center of the vibrant
Mexican commerce in Santa Paula at the time.
Celebrating Santa Paula's Latino Culture-
This mural depicts the rich culture of Santa Paula's
Latino community. It honors their devotion to family, religion,
education and country. Landmarks in the background are Our Lady of
Guadalupe Church (ca. 1929), Santa Paula High School Bell Tower (ca.
1939) and the Main Street Clock Tower (ca. 1905).
Discovering Black Gold in Santa Paula
As a result of the Civil War, shipments of oil and
kerosene from the east declined and interest rose in finding a source of
oil in California. Depicted in this mural are Lyman Stewart and Wallace
Hardison who discovered oil in California in this area and formed
Hardison and Stewart Oil Company in 1883. It became Union Oil in 1890.
The Santa Paula Airport-
Throughout the years, Santa Paula Airport has been
widely recognized around the world for its antique, classic and
experimental aircraft. Many talented and famous pilots have flown in and
out of Santa Paula airport, including Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager,
Roscoe Turner and Pancho Barnes.
There is a lot of aviation history stored around this
airport and some of the artifacts date back to the airport's beginning.
The Santa Paula Airport Museum is a treasure trove of aeronautical
memorabilia. Hanger Number 1 in the airport's 'Chain of Hangars' vividly
relates the history of the airport during the period 1927-1930 through
the use of historic photos, artifacts, and a video, which shows the
airport's construction and opening day festivities.
Hangar Number 2 in the 'Chain' reflects the 1930 era
aircraft popular at the time. Displayed are a 1930 De Havilland Gipsy
Moth and a 1942 De Havilland Tiger Moth, related artifacts and model
airplanes. This hangar was originally owned by the legendary airplane
pilot, Ted Homan who flew for Western Air Express, one of the earliest
West Coast Airlines later named Western Airlines, which merged into
The Tiger Moth was the type of aircraft used by the
British as a primary training airplane to prepare Royal Air Force (RAF)
pilots in the fight against the Germans in World War II. Only 500 Gipsy
Moths were built in England and they were know as the 'Gentleman's
Aerial Carriage'. David Watson, a Lockheed aircraft engineer, owns both
airplanes and Hangar Number 2.
As an added interest for children and the young at
heart, David has a fully functional Lionel train set, which visitors can
view and operate. Also of interest is the workshop and office at the
rear of the hangar. Santa Paula Airport and Aviation Museum (805)
933-1155, (805) 525-1109.
The Glenn Tavern Inn-
Established on May 19, 1911, The Glenn Tavern Inn is noted on the
National Register of Historic Places, the only hotel in Ventura County
so honored. Built in the days of grand hotels, the Tudor style building
has a beautiful craftsman influence. The flowing tapestries adorn the
burnished wood paneling. Dimly lit sconces reveal only a glimpse of the
distressed bar that entertained the likes of Clark Gable, Carol Lombard
and Harry Houdini.
As a salute to WWI draftees in Ventura County, a
special banquet and dance was held at The Glenn Tavern Inn. Dancing took
place in the lobby, which was decorated with flags and flowers.
In the early 1920's dozens of Western films were made
in and around Santa Paula. The Glenn Tavern played host to many movie
stars and companies.
Steve McQueen and John Wayne were guests while filming
one of the many movies made nearby. In June 2004, Jeff Bridges had a
private party here during the filming of 'The Moguls', and Billy Bob
Thornton was a recent guest during the recent filming of 'Mr. Woodcock'
in and around Santa Paula's historic Main Street.
In January 2004, Tom and Rossana Jennett purchased the
Inn and have been in the process of restoring it to its former beautiful
condition. The Glenn Tavern Inn (805) 933-5550.
The George Washington Faulker House was designated as
Ventura County Landmark No. 1 in 1968, and was listed on the National
Register of Historic Places in 1991. The NRHP listing was based on the
significance of George Washington Faulkner and the architectural
significance of the house and its designers.
G.W. Faulkner attained significance for the role he
played in the development of agriculture in Ventura County between 1880
and 1935. His willingness to experiment with crops in the early 1880s
led him to be among the first to raise apricots in the Santa Clara
Valley. He was also the first person to raise soft-shelled walnuts in
the valley. Mr. Faulkner also pioneered lima bean cultivation in the
In 1901, Faulkner and Jefferson Crane invented a
machine for the washing, treating and drying of walnuts, which was used
by the Santa Paula Walnut Association. He also invented a planter for
lima bean cultivation.
In 1879, Faulker purchased the 150-acre site on
Telegraph Road. A barn was built in 1886 and a large house in 1894.
These structures remain on the present 27-acre property.
Currently the Hansen Agricultural Trust owns the
property. The philosophy guiding the trust is based on the belief that a
healthy agriculture is an essential ingredient in a healthy economy and
community. It links us to the soil, weather, water and land of which we
are all a part.
The Historic Faulkner Farm is open to the public
during Pumpkin Patch Season and Farm Fest in April. Please check the web
site for the numerous activities during these periods. Faulkner Farm
Fillmore and Western Railway-
The Fillmore and Western Railway offers passenger
excursions, dinner trains, private parties and corporate events on it's
19th century antique train cars between Santa Paula's picturesque depot
and scenic downtown Fillmore.
The majority of the train equipment was acquired from
the property departments of three major movie studios: MGM, Paramount
and 20th Century Fox. In addition to providing excursion service, the
line's collection of rolling stock is used in the film industry through
its Short Line Enterprise Film Division. Short line has been used in
over seventy feature films, television series and commercials.
The principal's of Short Line have been engaged by the
California Department of Parks and Recreation to supervise restoration
of the extensive and historic collection of the California State
Railroad Museum. Additionally, Short Line was retained as the prime
contractor by the Nevada State Museum on restoration projects in Carson
The beautiful valley and mountains provide a special
background for the delightful passenger excursions of the Fillmore and
Western Railway. Fillmore and Western Railway (805) 524-2546.
Limoneira Company, a 112 year-old Santa Paula land
farming and food company has brought a bit of California and Ventura
County history and heritage to its new Limoneira Mercantile, a
seven-store retail and food destination in Santa Paula.
The Mercantile includes Limoneira Fresh a 3,200 square
foot open-air farmer's market with farm fresh fruit, nuts and
vegetables. Limoneira Fresh sells only the finest quality
produce-quality usually found only at high-end retail grocery stores.
Gift packs filled with fresh fruit and coffee products are sold at
Limoneira Fresh and are also available online at the company web site.
A 300-square foot flower shop, Natural Beauty Flowers
is also inside Limoneira Fresh. All flowers are from local growers in
Carpinteria and Oxnard.
Limoneira Company Founders were frequent visitors to
South America in the early days of the company. Limoneira Coffee
Company's Café do Brasil taps into this tradition with its 100 percent
Arabica premium coffee grown and roasted exclusively at a 40,000-acre
family-run farm in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Besides serving and selling only Guara coffee brand
products, the café features a full coffee house menu including hot and
iced coffee drinks, gourmet teas, desserts, baked goods, bags of whole
bean coffee and Brazilian coffee and chocolate gift packs. The café is a
wireless internet hot spot where customers can access the Internet from
their wireless laptops or through the coffee house's own bank of
Celebrating a Ventura County tradition of the 1950s,
'60s and '70s, the Mercantile includes Bob's Bib Box Express, complete
with the landmark Bob's Big Boy statue out front. All the Bob's Big Boy
classics are back including Big Boy Original double decker hamburger,
hand-breaded onion rings, fresh strawberry pie and shakes.
Other merchants at the Mercantile include a Union 76
gas station, car wash and convenience store. Santa Paula is the original
home of the Union Oil Company and the founding fathers of Limoniera
Company were also involved in the formation of Union Oil as well as
Santa Paula. The Limoneira Mercantile is located at 55 Hallock Drive and
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hotels in Santa Paula
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Additional Santa Paula Attractions-
Santa Paula Theater Center. Originally the Ebell Club;
offers live theater in a 1917 building; National Historic Register
#89000949, Ventura County Historic Landmark #76. (805) 525-3073.
Mountain View Golf Course. Scenic 18-hole public golf
course nestled between the mountains and the Santa Clara River. (805)
Information and photos submitted
Paula Chamber of Commerce
200 North 10th Street
Santa Paula, California 93060