The Butterfly Beach area needs no introduction, so let’s cut to the chase. I parked on Olive Mill Road, just below the 101.
While most of us have taken the southbound Olive Mill offramp at some point, I wonder how many of us know the name of the street (Spring Road) it flows onto. The Tudor architecture of the houses on the north side feels right for the relatively damp climate near the beach. Bonus points for the matching mailbox.
I turned left onto Depot Road, and immediately on the left was a charming house, while to the right were two properties—a slightly raffish-looking compound and a much slicker gated community of townhouses.
Depot Road dead-ends at the train tracks, but rather than returning to Olive Mill via the tracks—whatever edge I used to have is long gone—I backtracked. Someday, I promise to learn the difference between Bonnymede and Montecito Shores.
The Montecito Sanitary District has a cute little building on Olive Mill, with an equally cute parking spot. It’s a lift station, explained the organization when I emailed later to ask. A company called High Tide Technologies defines a lift station thus: “A wastewater lift station is a pumping station that moves wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher elevation. The benefit of using a lift station in a sewage collection system is that it saves a substantial amount of money in excavation costs, which involves digging for sewer pipes.”
The poor Biltmore. The misspelling is tacky and should’ve been fixed long ago; the presumption of patience and/or understanding couldn’t be more wrong. I continued along Hill Road, which runs behind the resort. If I were a tennis-playing member of the Coral Casino, I’d be peeved that the courts (which the hotel and club share) weren’t left open during the hotel’s hiatus.
Not far past the hotel proper is 1180 Chanel Drive, which Ty Warner owns (along with the lot across the street). The multicolored sculpture visible over the wall is an interesting remnant. UPDATE 1/2: The property “was owned for a long time by Atlantic Richfield; they used it as some sort of executive retreat,” commented Andy. “As part of their art patronage, it had and maybe still has a tremendous collection of works by Herbert Bayer, the multidisciplinary artist from the Bauhaus school and who is most known here for the Chromatic Gate. Amazon has a listing for a pamphlet that describes the work as of some time in the 80s.”
The highlight of this part of Butterfly Lane is most definitely the pig house, or whatever neighbors call it. The photo doesn’t do the collection justice—pigs are everywhere. (Does the owner hang out with whoever maintains the frog wall up on the Riviera? Or is there a pig vs. frog feud?) And the roofline is fascinating, of course. Elsewhere on the street is Villa Farfalla, where someone splurged on gates, and the 1905 Tudor compound at 89 Butterfly Lane. Listing photos for the latter from a few years ago are still online, if you’re curious.
The Highway 101 undercrossing is closed for renovations, as you’ve read. As part of the project, the railroad crossing will get “a new walkway, handrails and crossing arms with visual and audio signals.” The whole caboodle should be done by summer.
The main entrance of the Music Academy of the West, over on Fairway Road, can give the impression that the campus is closed to visitors. In a lovely gesture to the area, however, the school is actually porous, with several access points. On Butterfly Lane, you just walk around the gate.
With its Mediterranean architecture, much of which is pink or peach, the MAW campus reminds me of the old British TV show “The Prisoner”—a feeling intensified by only seeing two other people while I explored there. (If you’ve never seen “The Prisoner,” the first five or six episodes are a trip. And the final episode is off-the-charts bonkers, which is not a recommendation.)
“A dreaded sunny day, so I meet you at the cemetery gates….” Sorry, I couldn’t help but have a Smiths moment.
The cemetery is impossibly beautiful. I can’t help but think, however, that it’s a flagrant waste. I much prefer the idea of using land as both cemetery and woodland park, so while there might be tiny markers where people could pay their respects, the land would be in a much more natural state and also actively enjoyed by the living. Imagine if this particular area could actually be used for jogging and biking and Segwaying and picnicking! Even if you believe in an afterlife, you don’t really think that your soul will spend eternity hanging out underground somewhere, waiting for an occasional visitor, do you?
Many of the markers solely define the deceased by their relationship (mother, wife, daughter…) to whomever chose the wording, with few other details—which made this one for “our dearest pixie” refreshing.
I do, however, have thoughts about people who walk against traffic. Sure, it’s safer. But when someone approaches going the other direction, the burden is on you to move out into the street, because you can see oncoming traffic. This pair refused to budge an inch—or even shift to single-file—forcing me into the street.
Many of the houses on Channel Drive are kind of underwhelming for such a dramatic location. Don’t get me wrong: I’d take any of them. But if I were going to build there, I wouldn’t go with a quaint farmhouse, as if it were actually deep in the Santa Ynez Valley instead of overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in California.
Here’s the front of 1180 Channel Drive, the Ty Warner–owned property with the multicolored sculpture in the backyard that I mentioned earlier. Warner clearly isn’t interested in spending money on it—look at that sad, rusted fence. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the parking lot get used in a deal that allows the Coral Casino to be separated from the Biltmore. Right now the two entities share parking, so there needs to be a way to find more places for cars….
And the poor Coral Casino, also closed due to the Ty Warner–Four Seasons spat. The club has the most beautiful pool I have ever swam in—it practically bewitched me into wanting to move here. We never ended up joining, though. Despite my snobby taste in real estate, I seem to be more of a Los Baños type of guy.
Walk With Me…
• Mixing Business and Pleasure in East Beach
• It’s Only Milpas Street (But I Like It)
• An Aimless Wander Through Hidden Valley
• Voyage to the Heart of the San Roque Spider Web
• Where the Streets Have Full Names
• Once Upon a Time in the Hedgerow…
• On the Golden Slope of Eucalyptus Hill
• The Past Is Still Present in Old Town Goleta
• The Haley Corridor Is Keeping It Real
• The Unvarnished Appeal of Yankee Farm
• Where Montecito Gets Down to Business
• The Small Pleasures of Bungalow Haven
• The Small-Town Charms of Samarkand
• Climbing the Back of Eucalyptus Hill
• Admiring the Backsides of Beachfront Houses on Padaro Lane
• Social Distancing Made Easy at UCSB
• In the Heart of the Golden Quadrangle
• Is There a Better Neighborhood for a Stroll Than West Beach?
• Up, Down, and All Around Montecito’s Pepper Hill
• E. Canon Perdido, One of Downtown’s Best Strolling Streets
• Montecito’s Prestigious Picacho Lane
• Whitney Avenue in Summerland
• School House Road and Camphor Place
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