The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday designating two Santa Barbara buildings — the Nelson Medical Building and the Schauer Printing Building — as historical city landmarks, honoring three of Santa Barbara’s greatest architects.
The two buildings had been on the potential historic resources list since 1978 due to their architectural styles and historical significance. In Jan. 2018, the buildings’ owners, Donald Ziemer of the Nelson Medical Building, and the Towbes Group of the Schauer Printing Building, supported the nomination of the two buildings for Landmark designation by the City of Santa Barbara Historic Landmarks Commission.
“I find it to be really a wonderful juxtaposition of the architectural styles that Santa Barbara can embody. This wonderful 1950’s building and The Schauer Printing Building by Edwards and Plunkett received our complete support,” said Michael Drury, a HLC member.
The Nelson Medical Building at 30 West Arrellaga St. was designed in 1950 by esteemed architect Lutah Maria Riggs, FAIA. One of the few women working in architecture in the 1920s and ‘30s, and the first licensed female architect in Santa Barbara, Ms. Riggs influenced Southern California architecture with her fresh takes on Spanish Colonial Revival, Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles to name a few.
“The Nelson Medical Building demonstrates a mid-century style that is uncommon in Santa Barbara, despite being an important part of the city’s heritage. The style represents a brief period following World War II when architects introduced new, non-Spanish-influenced architectural themes. Asymmetric facades, rectilinear flat roofs, metal and glass compositions with open plans, smooth wall surfaces, and an absence of decorative detailing are signature features of the style,” said a city staff report.
The Schauer Printing Building, at 1126 Santa Barbara St., was designed by the prestigious Santa Barbara architecture firm of Edwards and Plunkett in 1930. It was originally a print shop, with offices on the first floor and apartments on the second, owned by Thomas M. Storke, then publisher of the Santa Barbara News Press.
William Edwards and Joseph Plunkett formed their firm the day after the Santa Barbara earthquake in 1925, and were among the most famous of Santa Barbara’s architects to help rebuild the city in definitive Spanish Colonial Revival, Mediterranean, and Mission styles, which have become iconic for the City. Their enduring works include the Arlington Theatre, El Encanto Hotel and the Bungalow Gardens, the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, the clubhouse for the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club, and National Guard Armory.
The HLC said it was important to recognize the Schauer for being “one of the masterpiece designs” from Mr. Edwards and Mr. Plunkett.
“We are pleased that this designation has the support of all parties involved, and I am pleased to lend our endorsement on behalf of the Lutah Maria Riggs Society,” said Gretchen Lieff, founder and president of the Lutah Maria Riggs Society, an organization dedicated to educating others about the significant architectural contributions of Ms. Riggs.
Prior to passing the resolution, mayor Cathy Murillo took the time to praise the research and prose that went into the report prepared and presented by Urban Historian Nicole Hernandez.
“A lot of the stuff we read isn’t really fun, but you made the reading fun. For those of you who haven’t read the report, take a look. It’s nice,” said Murillo.