Take a drive up Glen Annie Road and you might notice this unusual arch over a random driveway. It’s more than just a pretty gate, it is yet another overlooked Goleta Historical Monument.
In 1870 W.W. Hollister bought 5000 acres from the heirs of Nicholas Den. He named his new ranch Glen Annie, after his wife, and it became an agricultural show place as well as the first ranch in Goleta to be completely surrounded by fencing. Colonel Hollister was one of the wealthiest and most influential residents in California, and he left a lasting impression on Santa Barbara. He was instrumental in the construction of the Arlington Hotel, the Lobero Theater, Stearns Wharf, the Gaviota pier and Hollister Avenue, which he graded and planted with trees. The road that was named after him ended, appropriately enough, at the entrance to his ranch.
He wanted the entrance to the Glen Annie Ranch to be noteworthy, so he had this arch constructed in 1873.
The arch was made of redwood, imported by schooner from Santa Cruz, and floated ashore at the Goleta Slough. It was designed in a Victorian style by his father in law, Samuel James, built by chinese laborers, painted white and stood 15 feet high and 30 feet wide. It featured an intricate trip mechanism that was activated by pulling a rope on the right side of the gate, automatically raising and lowering the gate.
From the gate, it was a half mile ride up to the lower ranch buildings, later called Corona Del Mar, and then two miles further up to the Glen Annie mansion, located where the Glen Annie Reservoir is today. In 1890, Colonel Hollister lost his precious ranch to T. B. Bishop after a long and painful court battle, the result of some sloppy paperwork by the executor of the Den estate.
The Chicago based Crown Corporation purchased the property from the Bishop Estate in 1959, who in turn sold it to the Del Webb Corporation in 1961, who had plans to build the research park. After 88 years of court battles and land transactions, the Del Webb Corporation was ready to begin construction, and wanted the arch removed. The original site of the gate was at the corner shown above, at Coromar Drive and Hollister Avenue.
Walker Tompkins wrote an article in the local paper, detailing the historic value of the arch, which caught the attention of a local entrepreneur and newcomer to Goleta, Howard Goldman. He thought the arch would make a fine entrance to his new 5 acre home site on Glen Annie Road.
Goldman came to the rescue. The day it was scheduled to be demolished, the Del Webb Corporation gave him permission to take it away. Goldman began to have it disassembled and taken over to his property on Glenn Annie, but his neighbors were less than thrilled with his plan and they tried to stop Goldman. They didn’t want that “eyesore” in their neighborhood, so he had to file for a building permit to reconstruct it at his entrance. Fourteen of his neighbors signed a petition to the Board of Supervisors, asking them to deny the permit. Goldman was stunned when he read that they complained it would be “unsightly and out of place” and detrimental to their properties.Since Goldman had no bill of sale proving ownership, the County suggested moving the arch to Tucker’s Grove as a compromise. Goldman explained the arch was given to him by the Del Webb Group under the agreement that he would remove it at his own expense. Goldman also pointed out that his two immediate neighbors had no problem with the arch. After months of legal wrangling, Goldman finally got his way. By the end of 1962, the Hollister Arch was restored to its former glory at a new location on the former Glenn Annie Ranch; in front of the Howard Goldman residence.
It’s a fine representation of the heyday of early California ranches, and the glamour of the once great Glenn Annie Ranch.
It’s still a thing of beauty, but if you go look for it, respect private property and pay attention to the traffic, times have changed on Glen Annie Ranch.
Justin Ruhge, Walker A. Tompkins, Goleta Valley Historical Society, Robert Goldman