|Santa Barbara > Neighboring Communities > Summerland|
Summerland, California is a
quaint little seaside town reminiscent of a New England village nestled on a
hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You won't want to miss the many antique
stores that line Lillie Ave, the
main street of Summerland.
Summerland is just five minutes down the
coast from its neighboring city, Santa Barbara.
In The Spotlight
Lookout Park - Evans Ave at the
Historical Points of Interest
Summerland Presbyterian Church - built in 1901 at 2400 Lillie Ave
station - 2375 Lillie Ave
A History of Summerland
When Summerland was founded as a Spiritualist colony in 1889, terraced streets lined with small lots that sold for $25 apiece replaced the eye-high yellow mustard on the hillsides. The newcomers built a temple where they hold sťances and contacted spirits, assisted by mediums who could communicate with departed friends and relatives. The peaceful little enclave's serenity was doomed, however, when oil was discovered in 1894.
Within a few years a forest of the first offshore oil wells in the Western Hemisphere rose on piers jutting out into the Santa Barbara Channel. Today, offshore oil rigs, at night resembling aircraft carriers, still dot the horizon. Oil drillers and workers streamed into town, to the dismay of the original settlers. The oil that could be reached by primitive wells eventually dwindled and by the 1920's the boom was over.
In 1951 Highway 101 was expanded into a freeway, wiping out the original business district on Wallace Ave, and cutting off the town's access to the beach. In the 1960's the freeway was elevated, allowing an underpass at Evans Ave and reuniting the town. An influx of surfers, artists, and hippies joined the older residents, drawn by inexpensive housing and a casual life style. Additional housing was, for many years, curtailed by a lack of water, but when Lake Cachuma was built, additional water was available and a building boom began. Now only a handful of undeveloped lots are available, but homes (most with ocean views) are in great demand.
Today the oil wells on the beach are gone and the area provides recreation for swimmers, sun-bathers, horses and dogs. On weekends the streets bustle with visitors and antique hunters, but it's said, in certain houses, strange and unexplained sounds can be heard in the still of the night.