Restoring a Community Treasure

As spring envelopes our beautiful Rancho La Patera, we are reminded of the beauty and grandeur that this exquisite place has brought to the Goleta Valley. We are also reminded of the need for continued vigilance in preserving and restoring this jewel that has been, and continues to be, such an important part of our local history and tradition.

The arboretum is one of the best loved yet most endangered elements of Rancho La Patera. Each year, thousands of people stroll through the grounds, not realizing its significance as a rare surviving example of the late 19th/early 20th century picturesque style garden. A style characterized by specimen trees from around the world, gardens with winding paths and broad, expansive lawns. The arboretum, unfortunately, has not escaped the stress of time. Established in 2010, the Arboretum Restoration Project was a direct result of the Historic Landscape Study commissioned during the GVHS Restoration Campaign.

The project is designed to recreate the naturalistic landscape and beautiful gardens surrounding Stow House as they existed during the late 19th/early 20th century. To stop further decline, the Arboretum Restoration Project will help restore the gardens, capture and preserve this important part of our California landscape history and ensure that Rancho La Patera will maintain the ambience and integrity of an early California ranch estate.

Once restored, the gardens will be eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for cultural landscape and will share this honor with Stow House. The restored arboretum will continue to provide peace and tranquility, in addition to educational opportunities for visitors. Through the use of marked paths, botanical labels, educational materials and docent-led tours, visitors will learn the historical significance of the property as one of the last remaining late 19th/early 20th century California garden landscapes. This phase of the project will be complete by June 1.

As the Goleta Valley Historical Society raises the needed money, additional restoration will occur east of Stow House in the area known as Ida’s Garden.