Santa Maria Inn 1923

On Nov. 5, 1923, Los Angeles Illustrated News quoted Cornelius Vanderbilt as saying that the Santa Maria Inn was “by far the best little hotel in the West.” The Santa Maria Inn opened in 1917. This photo was taken in 1923.

Nov. 13, 1849: Henry Teftt was elected as San Luis Obispo’s first assemblyman.

November 1868: John Prell built the first house in what was to become Central City and, later, Santa Maria. 

November 1868: The Battles family arrived at Suey Canyon.

November 1871: Theodore LeRoy filed a subdivision map of Rancho Guadalupe and set aside LeRoy Park for the use and enjoyment of the town’s inhabitants.

November 1887: The Pacific Coast Railway reached Los Olivos.

Nov. 10, 1896: Casmalia’s first post office opened with Frank A. Vandoit as postmaster. 

Nov. 3, 1903: The Guadalupe Japanese Association, originally called Kyowa Kai, was organized.

Nov. 9, 1909: The Bicknell Post Office was established. It closed on Feb. 29, 1940.

Nov. 2, 1917: Postal rates increased to 3 cents, except for those letters delivered by rural city or other carrier which carried the rate of 2 cents. Postcards containing written messages sold for 2 cents.

Nov. 28, 1921: The new two-story wooden dormitory for children of Japanese field workers was recognized as the Japanese Children’s Home of Guadalupe.

Nov. 5, 1923: Los Angeles Illustrated News quoted Cornelius Vanderbilt as saying that the Santa Maria Inn was “by far the best little hotel in the West.”


The American Legion released a statement on the participation of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1923 Armistice Day Parade. The statement can be found in the bottom right corner. 

Nov. 11, 1923: About 15,000 spectators turned out to watch the parade commemorating the signing of the armistice, an event that had taken place five years earlier. About 100 Ku Klux Klansmen, dressed in full regalia, joined the marchers.

Nov. 13, 1925: Paul Harris, founder of Rotary International, visited the Santa Maria chapter of the organization.

November 1926: Friends of Jesus, now the Christ United Methodist Church, was organized in Santa Maria.

Nov. 14, 1929: The Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Minerva Club, American Legion Auxiliary and others joined together for a one-day Red Cross drive in the Bradley Hotel.

Nov. 8, 1932: Henry (Pat) Stubbs was elected to Congress.

November 1934: Approximately 3,000 field workers and packers went on strike for 10 days, virtually paralyzing the produce industry in Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Lompoc and southern San Luis Obispo.

November 1934: Mayor Marion Rice presided over the first City Council meeting held in the new City Hall after the building’s completion in September of the same year.

November 1934: A seven-year restoration project began on the La Purisima Mission by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Union Oil and the Catholic Church had donated most of the land for the mission’s restoration.

Nov. 22, 1939: Ground was broken for the 35-bed Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospital. The hospital, better known as Sisters’ Hospital, was located at 125 Airport Drive (now College Drive).

Nov. 15, 1940: Construction began on the 37,000-acre Camp Roberts, said to have been the largest training base in the country during World War II. The camp was named in honor of 19-year-old Medal of Honor recipient Cpl. Harold Roberts, who lost his life in France while valiantly trying to save others.

Nov. 26, 1942: President Roosevelt ordered nationwide gas rationing.

Nov. 18, 1943: Elks Lodge #1538 formed the Elks Recreation Foundation.

November 1946: Santa Barbara County acquired an interim permit for Santa Maria Army Air Field.

Nov. 27, 1947: The Santa Maria Redskins beat the Hemet Tahquetz Packers 7-6 when George Galleson, who had never played in a game before, caught a 35-yard pass in the end zone to tie the game. Franke Reis kicked the extra point. Jim Gamble served as general manager throughout the club’s seven-year existence.

Nov. 7, 1957: Santa Maria’s population reached 14,177.

Nov. 24, 1958: The Orcutt Mineral Society was formed with 21 members signing the charter.

Nov. 10, 1959: Orcutt Mercantile, owned by Cerfee and Anita Luis, burned down.

Nov. 7, 1960: The City Council adopted a resolution to proceed with the condemnation of three lots on the corner of Broadway and East Main Street. This led to the eventual destruction of Whiskey Row.

Nov. 23, 1962: A fire at El Camino School completely destroyed four classrooms and caused extensive water damage throughout the building.

Nov. 10, 1968: Tunnell School was dedicated to Martin Luther Tunnell. 

November 1972: A Diamond Jubilee celebration marked 75 years of Episcopalian services in Santa Maria.

Nov. 11, 1973: The flagpole, which had formerly stood at the intersection of Main and Broadway, was designated as a Santa Maria city landmark. The flagpole currently stands in front of City Hall.

Nov. 14, 1976: The Rev. Anthony Runtz, then pastor of St. Louis de Montfort Church, agreed to resume the celebration of Sunday Mass at the San Ramon Chapel.

November 1978: The county split measure went down to defeat.

Nov. 7, 1990: The explosion that caused the total destruction of a gas station and garage on Guadalupe Street in Guadalupe was caused by a vapor in a lantern igniting when the welder lit his torch to repair the fixture. In addition to both the welder and his assistant being killed in the explosion, there was much damage throughout the town. The Basque House, formerly the Commercial Hotel, was closed and has yet to be reopened.

Nov. 6, 1992: The Royce R. Lewellen Justice Center was dedicated.

November 1996: Thirty-five years after the town of Betteravia came to an end, Union Sugar began tearing down the company’s remaining buildings, thereby closing an important chapter of Santa Maria’s history.

Nov. 11, 1998: Boy Scouts of America Troop #91 (originally designated as Orcutt’s Troop #1) celebrated its 70th anniversary.

Nov. 17, 1999: The Dunes Center in Guadalupe was dedicated.

Shirley Contreras lives in Orcutt and writes for the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. She can be contacted at 623-8193 or at Her book, “The Good Years,” a selection of stories she’s written for the Santa Maria Times since 1991, is on sale at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, 616 S. Broadway.


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