Natural Wonders

Happy Birthday, Pearl Chase! | Edhat

By Cheri Rae, author, “Pearl Chase, First Lady of Santa Barbara”

“The heart of the old Santa Barbara is still the heart of the new.” ~ Pearl Chase 

Today, November 16, marks the birthday of Pearl Chase, who was born in 1888. 

Boston may have been her birthplace, but Santa Barbara was her home. This is a good time to remember the lasting impact this one remarkable woman had on this city. 

The city of Santa Barbara is sometimes called a jewel, a gem, a treasure; many visitors and residents don’t realize how many facets of this beautiful place—so highly prized and richly valued—can be traced back to a woman named Pearl.   

Photo: Pearl Chase Society

More than a century after her birth, Pearl Chase is without a doubt, the most influential woman in the history of Santa Barbara. Her vision, accompanied by her strong will and leadership qualities, inspired individuals in this community to work with her to proudly distinguish it from all others. In places far away and close to home, Santa Barbara has long been known as a healthful place of natural beauty complemented by extraordinary architecture, high style and an elevated level of civic involvement. 

The Santa Barbara she envisioned and created lives on today—in beautiful buildings with red-tiled roofs; at historic sites preserved for posterity; through natural wonders protected for all time; and also in the memories of those who worked with her. They were inspired by her tireless efforts to shape this city; in the sense of civic pride she instilled on those who wish they had known and worked with her; and in special places throughout the community, large and small. 

Those places that she worked to preserve and protect can still be visited and appreciated today; the precedence she established made Santa Barbara known and prized the world over. This vibrant, attractive community with so many civic activists who recall her leadership is a testament to the power of one single individual to make a difference over time and space—and most of all, to inspire others. 

Photo: Pearl Chase Society

She was extraordinarily lucky, this woman born to a family of means, who enjoyed the benefit of a fine education and long life. Because she was often in the right place at just the right time, she associated with presidents and politicians, philanthropists and forward thinkers who helped her in her ceaseless efforts to make the world a better place.

We stand on the shoulders of giants in this community, and walk in their footsteps. It is important to remember this place didn’t just happened—it was planned this way, thanks in large part to the persuasive Miss Pearl Chase. 

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