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Old Town Goleta Comparison 2

A while back, we did a page comparing this photo of Old Town Goleta to today’s Old Town. We thought it was time to do some more comparisons, since the more things change…..the more Old Town stays the same. Happily. So let’s begin!

Above is the corner of Nectarine and Hollister in 2023, which houses small local businesses like El Rodeo Western Wear, Goodland Florist, Upholstery Décor and Goleta Hairstyles.

Here’s roughly the same view in 1930. We couldn’t get the exact angle because today there’s an auto parts store in the way. But you get the idea. Same buildings going strong almost 100 years later. This is a re-occurring theme in Old Town.

Here’s Tecolote and Hollister in 2023. A popular stretch with La Chapala Market, Domingos Cafe and Goleta Bakery.

About 1950, that same corner looked like this. This one’s a little tricky because if you look close you can see the corner in the foreground is a small vacant lot. That’s where La Chapala Market is today. Domingos was the Goleta Post office and the Goleta Bakery has been the Goleta Bakery for a long time!

Here’s a better view of the post office, with the vacant lot next door and the bakery on the left.

The Post Office today, a great breakfast spot known as Domingo’s. Next time you go in there, take some time to check out all the cool historic photos they have hanging on their walls.

Goleta Bakery has been making goodies for a long time at 5784 Hollister. Just look at that wedding cake!

They continue to bake goodies and they make good Mexican food as well.

In the 1950s, businesses between 5840 and 5858 Hollister were in what was called the “Marcus Building”. All small, locally owned businesses.

Today, we don’t call it the Marcus Building, but it really hasn’t changed, and it’s still full of small, locally owned businesses!

In 1961, the Marcus Building housed Goleta Stationery and Gift Shop at 5854 Hollister. This smiling entrepreneur was on top of the world because he had the only stationery game in town. He boasted a “Complete Line of Gifts”, and he was keeping it cutting edge with those “Contemporary Cards”. Hopefully they weren’t too racy…

Over half a century later, that same shop is now home to Mary’s Beauty Center and the red tile wall of the Marcus Building is still shining through.

Back in the day, Goleta Electric was the place to buy new electric appliances and to get them repaired when they broke. Televisions, radios, toasters, you know, stuff that people just throw away and replace nowadays…

In more recent years, Goleta Electric gave up on the retail side of business and focused on electrical repair. Some of the windows were covered up and the front door was closed in favor of a rear entry by the parking lot. The classic sign remained for a long time though.

Today it’s completely shuttered up and the classic sign is gone. The only unique characteristic left is the big false front.

In the 1960s, the Valley House was premier dining at 5918 Hollister. With that unique sign, cocktails and ample parking, I’m sure they did great business. Next door was the Valley House delicatessen and a mechanic. Some very chic architecture…

In the early 1970s, it got a major remodel. It got an all wood exterior, a unique rounded entrance, the building expanded both ways and it transformed into Hobey Bakers. A very popular spot to eat, drink and be merry.

One ad boasted that the waiters were popular with the girls, “very good looking” and “always willing to satisfy”. They also featured the hottest live music for years and is still fondly remembered by lots of locals to this day.

After that it was Alex’s Cantina for a long time, also a very popular spot. They had decent Mexican food and still had the occasional live band, but the 1980s brought disco, and DJs became the norm. Today, it is Pattaya Thai Restaurant. No more live music and we’re not sure if all the waiters are “very good looking”. Feel free to let us know.

Back in the day 5968 Hollister was Coffey’s Complete Market. Notice the unique roof line, because it is still there today.

At some point Coffey’s changed from a “complete market” to just a grocery, that also served lunch and cold drinks. Gotta love that old dog napping on the sidewalk.

They ran a regular ad in the local paper, the Goleta Valley Leader. Such a small town, none of the ads had addresses. How about these 1942 prices? And of course, S&H green stamps were available.

By 1960, the Arca Brothers changed the name to Fairway Market. Due to such a bad picture, we can’t tell what the boys are holding up. Watermelons?

Today 5968 Hollister is this little furniture store. Lots of things have changed, but the roof line stays the same. It’s been a furniture store for decades, in fact I bought all my “oak” furniture here as young man and I still use a lot of it.

Back in 1925, John Pico’s Blacksmith shop was right on Hollister, at 5960. Blacksmiths were in high demand in these agricultural times, always busy fabricating new and repairing old farm equipment, among other things.

John Pico was one of early Goleta’s upstanding citizens, and he was the constable for Goleta. (A constable was similar to a marshal today.) Pico built this shop in the early 1900s and in 1925, he sold it to another blacksmith, Jim Smith. Pico retired to his home on south Patterson where he lived until his death in 1958.

Jim Smith tore down the old shop and built a new, larger building for his blacksmith business. Smith was the last of Goleta’s old fashioned village blacksmiths.

Smith was a talented craftsman and his service to the farmers and all the citizens of Goleta was greatly appreciated. In his spare time, he wrote a historic column in the little Goleta newspaper.

During WW II, Smith ran a regular ad in the paper, usually urging farmers to get their equipment repaired while spare parts were still available. The war effort affected every walk of life.

Some of Smith’s finest handiwork still exists at the Tecolote Ranch Estate. His beautiful and extremely well built wrought iron fences, gates and fixtures are still functional today, nearly 100 years after being made. He was an artist with a hammer and anvil.

Smith made a living at 5960 Hollister for 25 years and then he sold the shop and retired to his ranch up in Glen Annie Canyon. Just before his retirement, he was awarded the first ever, Goleta “Man of the Year” award, in1948.

Walter Parry bought the blacksmith building in 1949 and made it into a family run furniture and appliance store.

In 2023, Jim Smith’s old blacksmith shop is a very popular thrift store called Destined For Grace.

Down the street at 5744 Hollister is a very popular sushi restaurant called Goleta Sushi House. Well maintained and always busy, it is one of the gems of Old Town Goleta and we recommend it highly.

When you visit them, pause at the front door and look up. You’ll see a sign from Goleta’s past that has miraculously survived all the years of paint and maintenance. It reads, “Justice Court- Goleta- Hope Ranch”.

Upon closer inspection, you can read, “I.S. Steve Austin, Constable”. Obviously, we were intrigued. The only Steve Austin we knew of was the Bionic Man. So we dug deeper.

We found out that I.S. “Steve” Austin was a veteran of WW I and had a long career in police work. Austin was a city policeman in Daytona Beach, Florida, a Deputy Sheriff in Cass County, Missouri, and an operative of Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency in Kansas City, Missouri. He moved to Goleta in 1930, and in 1946 he became a Constable in Goleta. While here he held positions on several boards and organizations and was a delegate for Santa Barbara County at the Constables State Convention. Steve was also in the American Legion, a member of the Elks Lodge, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, he was a Mason and a Charter member of the Lions Club. And somehow he still found time to be a husband to his wife Anna, and they lived happily at 70 Orange Avenue.

As you can see, Austin was community minded, to say the least. In 1950, he was a board member of the Sanitary District and he was in the front row to see the first sewer permit being issued to the President of the Chamber of Commerce.

We aren’t sure where the previous office was, but in 1951 he was moved to his new location at 5744 Hollister. I wonder what these two distinguished gentlemen would think if we told them 50 years later people would be eating raw fish in this office….and loving it!

In 1954 he was instrumental in the formation of the Goleta Valley Safety Council. There he is in the front row again! He was praised by local officials for his “groundwork in creating local interest in safety”. They did important work like reminding bus drivers to use their flashing red lights when unloading kids on Hollister Avenue.


Now here’s a life lesson for us all, you can’t possibly be in that many organizations and still be getting enough rest. Steve went down with a bout of “near-pneumonia” in 1954. Surely he was just plain exhausted!

Lucky for the citizens of Goleta, Steve was OK by Christmas and was able to put this lovely yuletide greeting in the local paper.

Today, Austin’s old office is filled with happy people eating and living the good life in Goleta, thanks to Vinh and her friendly staff.

Shortly after this page was published, I received a nice note from former Santa Barbara Mayor Sheila Lodge. She sent this photo of a pencil that Austin handed out when campaigning for his re-election in 1956. The note describes how a young Joseph Lodge ran against Austin for Goleta Justice court. Austin had been Constable for several years by then, and had rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way by writing lots of tickets for minor offenses. The result found 26 year old Joseph Lodge the victor.

Judge Joseph Lodge went on to serve as a judge for 3 months shy of 50 years: 8 years as the part-time Goleta justice court judge, 34 years as a full-time municipal court judge and the remainder as a superior court judge for the SB County south coast. While a justice court judge, he had his law office at 5730 Hollister, second door in on the ground floor.

There’s more than what meets the eye in today’s Old Town Goleta. After all, it’s not often that a nearly 100 year old commercial district remains so vibrant. It’s one of the few California towns that is still affordable enough to allow bold entrepreneurs to take a chance on their dream. Let’s hope things stay that way….

Sources: Walker Tompkins, Goleta Valley Historical Society, UCSB, Goleta Valley Leader, Sheila Lodge

Categories: Goleta History Old Town Goleta

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Tom Modugno

21 replies

  1. This is so well done, Tom! What a treat to see all these old photos that bring back so many memories. My mom worked at Valley House for awhile as a waitress, my Uncle, Chuck Begg worked at Coffey’s for a time as well. Jim Smith good friends with my Main & Begg families. Thank you for continuing to bring old Goleta back to life.

  2. Tom –
    Another outstanding article on the history of Goleta. This has brought back many fond memories of my childhood growing up in the Goleta Valley. The photo of “Goleta’s New Justice Court Building” shows Steve Austin with my grandfather, Judge W. T. Lillard, Goleta’s Justice of the Peace. My grandmother, Lillian “Mae” Pickett Lillard, was his clerk/secretary.
    The newspaper article just beneath it entitled “Goleta Safety Council Elects” shows my mom, Mrs. Gene Lillard (Fran). Dad was probably off playing baseball, and come summer break, Mom would pack we three kids in the car and drive off to wherever he was playing. One year she drove from the Ellwood Ranch in Goleta to Calgary, Alberta, Canada where Dad was playing. We were privileged to be able to see a huge part of the Western United States first-hand on that trip.
    Thank you so much for keeping Goleta History alive!

  3. What fun to scroll through these old town Goleta pictures and see my dad Herman decorating the wedding cake at Goleta Bakery. I have a few more. My grandparents started the bakery approximately 1948.

  4. Resided & Educated:

    Dinuba/Fresno/Lodi 1950-1957
    Santa Barbara/Goleta/Carpinteria 1957-1984
    Saint Petersburg/West Palm Beach/Boynton Beach 1984-1993
    Goleta 1993
    Arizona/Nevada/Utah 1994-1995
    Santa Cruz 1996
    Carpinteria/Goleta/Santa Barbara 1997-2005
    Mendocino County 2006-2020
    Traveling the United States 2020-present and probably one day SB/Goleta once again

    Fresno Adventist Academy, Washington Elementary, SB Adventist, La Colina, San Marcos, Dos Pueblos, Newbury Park Academy, Santa Barbara City College

    After all this movement and making hundreds of new friends and literally seeing the whole country:


  5. Thank you for transporting us back in time and for reminding me what Goleta was like when I entered the scene in 1969. I sure am glad the old town remains much the same as “New Town” moved in across hwy 101.

  6. Thank you Tom
    Another fantastic Job ! bring’s me back to my childhood in good old goleta Thank’s for the memories . Keep up the good work. We are lucky to have you,

  7. Well Done Tom!
    Thank you for keeping Goleta’s history alive.
    Our historic downtown (aka Old Town Goleta) is a special place.

  8. Great read Tom….reminds me of riding my Schwinn Sting Ray in that neighborhood in the 60’s….wish I still had that bicycle !!!!

  9. Tom,
    Great job of researching and presenting Old Town history. I enjoyed very much comparing the old with the new and learning how many of the old structures are proudly still standing and serving the community.
    Ron Nye

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