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Santa Barbara, CA
September 16, 2015

The Pearl Chase Society has launched a petition drive to save Franceschi House from demolition.

UPDATE: The petition drive reached its goal of over 1,000 signatures! Thank you.

The story of Santa Barbara’s Franceschi House is one of American dreams: immigrant success, strong family ties, extreme wealth, respect for history, good intentions, poor execution, and benign neglect. All within four decades. The two major figures of the House saga – Francesco Franceschi and Alden Freeman – each contributed his own interesting personal history to the story.

Originally built by the immigrant Franceschi family in 1905, the House was acquired from Franceschi’s son in 1926 by Alden Freeman, an eccentric socialist millionaire from New Jersey who admired Franceschi’s work with plants. Freeman remodeled the house as a Mediterranean villa, added his own images, acquired the surrounding acreage and donated the whole package to the city as a memorial park to Dr. Franceschi in 1931. Because the City accepted the House and Park at the outset of the Great Depression, resources to maintain them were scarce and upkeep languished over the decades.

The involvement of Miss Pearl Chase to save the House continued into the 1970s when she successfully defended it against demolition. Her namesake – the Pearl Chase Society – undertook a similar defense almost 30 years later. That effort to restore or rehabilitate the House had strong community support but failed for lack of corresponding funding.

Demolition is now being proposed again.

Please help us convince the Santa Barbara City Council to reject permanently the demolition option and work on a lasting solution for this unique place. Generations of locals and visitors have enjoyed Franceschi House and Park as a horticultural paradise with outstanding views of the City. Help us improve the Park and keep as much of the House as we can afford.


  1. What is the current situation re. Franceschi house, gardens and park?

    • Rick Closson says:

      Currently the situation for the House and Park remains unchanged from recent history. The Park remains open; the House remains closed. In June 2015, the City Department of Parks & Recreation recommended to City Council that Franceschi House be demolished. Due to a combination of public opposition [including from the Pearl Chase Society] and demolition expenses, that recommendation was rejected. City Council voted [5-1, I think] to direct the Pearl Chase Society and Parks & Recreation to return to the Council in six months with fresh ideas for the House and Park. The actual return date is mostly determined by [1] Parks & Rec’s ability to pull together its efforts and [2] room in the City Council meeting agenda. Because Parks & Rec’s recommendation to the Council in June was to demolish the House, having to come up with alternative plans is a course reversal for them and will take time. The Pearl Chase Society has been gathering public ideas and information in addition to the online petition which collected over 1000 signatures. I’m not a decision-maker but I’m confident the Pearl Chase Society will be ready with a full response when the actual return date to Council is set. Right now that looks like it will be in June 2016.

  2. Evie Y says:

    Please keep us updated. Thank you!

  3. David says:

    Any new news about the future of this house??

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