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Tea Gardens Fire

Yesterday evening a devastating fire broke out in Santa Barbara. It started in the foothills at a place known as the Tea Gardens or Mar y Cel (Sea and Sky).

Although it is just ruins now, it was a fantastic garden with pools, waterfalls, Romanesque arches, Greek statues and an amphitheater. It was built sometime around 1917 by Ellen and Henry Bothin on a portion of the old Piranhurst Estate. Much of the garden was constructed after the 1925 earthquake by famous garden designer Lockwood de Forest. After the death of Ellen Bothin in 1965, the property passed through a couple of hands and then in 2000 the portion of the property where the Tea Gardens was became a conservation easement. With a one half mile trail easement, it has been accessible from the Cold Springs hiking trail (see these photos of a hiking tour to Mar y Cel).

Sadly, now it seems it will be remembered as the start of a fire that has taken over a hundred homes.

Comments (3)



I came to your blog hoping that all is well with you and that your home is safe and not in danger.

In Florida, we deal with the threat of hurricanes every year, but fire would terrorize me!

Wishing you well.

Thank you, Pat, yes we are not in any danger... just sad for the friends and people in our community who have lost their homes or been displaced.

Krista, I have been thinking about you. Glad you are not in any danger. This fire is horrible!

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