Page 61 - The Montecito Journal Glossy Edition Summer Fall 2010

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fal l
he is a stately lady who can always be seen standing on
the same corner in Montecito. Her almost regal bearing is
obviously the product of an earlier generation, and her somewhat
eccentric style is an anomaly in this day and age. Residents have become
so accustomed to her that they usually drive past without paying her any
attention. Even those who wait for the bus, sitting on the bench near where
she always stands, are seemingly oblivious to her presence. But sometimes,
there will be someone intrigued enough to stop and take a picture. Usually
it’s a tourist or a photography student, who with eyes fresher than those of
the jaded locals, realize she is an unusual looking lady worthy of a photo.
“She” is Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The Early Parish
The Pueblo Revival-style church has been a local landmark for nearly
75 years, but the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, while being the
first of any denomination established in Montecito with a
founding Mass in 1856, didn’t always
by Lynn P. Kirst
Montecito’s Pueblo Revival Treasure
occupy its present corner at the intersection of East Valley and Hot Springs
Roads. The first church, popularly known as the Carmelo Mission, was
located on the north side of East Valley Road, midway between present Hot
Springs Road and Picacho Lane.
That humble adobe edifice was replaced in 1898, when a white
clapboard Gothic Revival-style church, complete with a New England-
style steeple, was erected on the corner of Hot Springs and East Valley.
Surely this seemed a grand church to the early parishioners, the majority
of whom were Spanish-speaking natives of Spanish, Mexican, or
Californio descent. For the most part they were agricultural laborers
in the surrounding citrus groves and vegetable farms. Some worked
as groundskeepers, others, particularly the Italians, as stonemasons
on the grand estates being established in Montecito during the
early twentieth century. A smaller contingent of the parishioners
were Irish immigrants, some of whom were employed as household
servants or chauffeurs. The majority of Montecito’s estate owners
had emigrated from the East or Midwest and were, by and
large, of Protestant beliefs.
The façade of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, designed
by Los Angeles architect Ross Montgomery, glows
in the early morning sunlight. Erected in 1936,
the Pueblo Revival-style church replaced an earlier
structure of white clapboard with a New England-
style steeple. (photo by Lynn P. Kirst)