on saturday, after a bit of reading, writing, and watercoloring i headed back out to explore franceschi park which has a jaw-dropping view of the entire santa barbara riviera.
i always love reading plaques on benches in public places
i sat on jan’s bench for quite a while gazing out at the wild blue yonder. then i went to have a better look around.
there is an old dilapidated mansion tucked into the hillside of franceschi park waiting to be studied up close.
it was built in 1893 by francesco franceschi an italian horticulturalist who lived in santa barbara for about 20 years.
2 very thorough articles about francesco franceschi’s horticultural adventures can be found in the July 2002 issue of pacific horticulture and part 2 of the series continues the story in the october 2002 issue
i was fascinated by the dozens of plaques & medallions adorning the house. these were added by alden freedman, a philanthropist and socialite, after 1927 when he bought the house.
clearly alden was a man of letters and history. he intended to create a franceschi memorial park, but in 1930 donated the property to the city of santa barbara before his plan was fully realized.
in 1927 alden told the santa barbara morning press (1887-1937):
it is my ambition to have this estate turned into a public pleasure resort, large enough so that the people of today may learn again of the art of walking and the delight it brings!
there are lovely resting places scattered about the property.
the park and property is languishing while the city decides its fate. while i was researching, i came across the pearl chase society and their annual home tour. i’ll have to check out the homes listed in their 2016 tour. i found some of the moody sister’s cottages on a previous visit, but the others are new to me.
some reading about santa barbara history may be in order.
there was hardly anyone at the park when i visited so i had the benches all to myself. with the gorgeous views it would be a nice place for a picnic.
i was here at midday, but i think early morning or evening would be even more spectacular. the park is open till 6 p.m. and there are a handful of parking spaces. i intend to return next time with my journal or sketchbook. it’s a quiet, peaceful place where one can sit and think of nothing or everything.