Postcards from the Past

Posted on Dec 14 by Leslie Dinaberg

Cabrillo Boulevard, as it once looked. Note Los Banos del Mar pool in the foreground. Originally built in 1901, it was rebuilt with a Public Works Administration grant after the 1925 Earthquake and opened in 1939. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

You never know where story inspiration is going to come from.

When my brother-in-law, Eric States, casually mentioned that he was creating large-scale metal prints from vintage postcards that belonged to long-time local businessman and philanthropist Peter Jordano, I was intrigued. Especially when Eric said the collection was “impressive.”

The word impressive was definitely an understatement. It turns out that Jordano owns about 6,000 pre-1950 Santa Barbara postcards, all meticulously organized into photo albums that document the history of Santa Barbara’s waterfront and downtown development, as well as the leisurely lifestyle of days gone by.

A significant part of Jordano’s collection is from Osborne’s Book Store, a retail fixture on State Street until it closed in 1987, which published hundreds of Santa Barbara postcards. The postcard collection also parallels the Jordano’s history.

The Masonic Temple. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

Beach scene. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

Oil wells off the coast of Summerland. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

De la Guerra Plaza courtyard with cars. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

El Encanto hotel. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

A 1923 postcard of the beach at Castle Rock from the Osborne’s Book Store collection. The remainder of Castle Rock was removed to build the Santa Barbara Harbor, which was completed in 1930. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

El Paseo Restaurant during Fiesta. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

Santa Barbara street scene. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

Old De la Guerra mansion. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

El Paseo Restaurant. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

The Santa Barbara Mission, just after the 1925 earthquake. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

The family-owned business started in Santa Barbara in 1915, with four brothers, a family loan and a little grocery store on State Street. On March 1, 1915, the first Jordano Bros. opened at 706 State St., making deliveries by horse and buggy.

By the early 1970s, Jordano’s had weathered two world wars, the Depression and a number of minor recessions; had 18 stores throughout Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties; and operated a distributing business stocking hotels and restaurants. One son from each of the original four brothers joined the family business, including our postcard collector Peter C. Jordano, who leads Jordano’s Inc. today.

Under Jordano’s leadership, the company diversified into what it is today: a distributing conglomerate including food and beverage distributors, a kitchen supply business and an institutional foods distributor. Now it’s a multi-million-dollar corporation with more than 500 employees.

Jordano’s postcard collection has also continued to grow and, with help from Eric’s painstakingly high-resolution reproductions, will be digitized and preserved for generations to come. Here is a selection of our favorite postcards from the past. To view more of the collection and for more information about metal prints, visit santabarbaraphotographs.com.

Santa Barbara State Teachers College on the Riviera, the predecessor to UCSB. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

Mar Monte Hotel and East Beach. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

Winter bathing on Miramar Beach. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

Winter bathing on Miramar Beach. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

 

An overview of State Street. Image from the collection of Peter Jordano.

Leslie Dinaberg

This story was originally published in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

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