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