October 18, 2021

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August highlights in history include Towne Center construction | Shirley Contreras | Local News

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Aug. 21, 1874: The Guadalupe Masonic Lodge voted to purchase land (together with the Odd Fellows) to be used as a cemetery.

Aug. 1, 1888: The Hart House (later the Bradley Hotel) officially opened with a grand ball held at McMillan’s Hall.

Aug. 13, 1888: Lompoc, founded in 1874, incorporated with a population of 1,015.

August 1891: Santa Maria Union High School District, the oldest union high school district in the state, was built.

Aug. 10, 1896: Nancy Kelsey, the first white woman to enter California over the perilous and uncharted Sierra Madre Mountains, died in Cottonwood Canyon.

Aug. 25, 1898: The Los Angeles Herald reported that the Union Sugar Beet Company had purchased from the Goldtree brothers 380 acres of land at Betteravia, the factory site, for $135,000.

August 1901: After digging two dry holes, Western Union Oil Company struck oil at Careaga’s well #3. This first oil discovery in the hills brought in about 50 barrels a day.

Aug. 20, 1905: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated for the first time for Catholic families in Santa Maria by Rev. Mathias Tiernes at McMillan’s Hall.

August 1908: With Frank Darby as contractor, construction began on the Carnegie Library. The building was completed in May of the following year.

August 1913: The Buddhist Church in Guadalupe (at 209 Main Street) incorporated as the Guadalupe Buddhist Mission.

August 1919: The Guadalupe Japanese School, serving the Santa Maria Valley and vicinity, opened. With Shinobu Matsuura as principal, the school functioned through 1928.

Aug. 26, 1920: The Santa Maria Times announced that the 19th amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was in effect.

August 1928: Setsuo Aratani’s baseball team, the Aratanis, sailed from San Francisco to Japan on the Korea Maru on a goodwill tour. The 4-month tour ended with the team returning to the United States soil, having racked up 25 wins, one tie, and four losses.

Aug. 7-11, 1928: Over 17,000 people attended the first official Santa Barbara County Fair. Originating in 1891, it was first known as the “Santa Maria Valley Fair.”

Aug. 14, 1929: The California Highway Patrol was created by the state legislature to insure the safety of California highways and that of all who use them. Originally part of a division of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, it became a department of its own in October of 1947. The position of commissioner was created to head the new department. In 1995 it merged with the California State Police.

Aug. 12, 1932: John Paulsen, rated as among the best breast stroke swimmers on the West Coast, came in fourth place on the third heat of the breaststroke swimming competitions at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Aug. 4, 1943: Bond sales at the Veterans Memorial Building resulted in Leona Haslam being the proud owner of Colonel Mann’s Tennessee Walker filly, Trelauney. Mrs. Haslam later donated the horse to the Elks. The rest of the story became the history of the Elks Rodeo.

Aug. 9, 1943: The Bureau of Naval Personnel posthumously issued a Purple Heart to Kenneth Cooper, U. S. Navy FC 3rd Class. Cooper, and his brother, Clarence, died aboard the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

August 1944: FBI special agent William B. Nolan was assigned to Santa Maria as the only agent in the only agency bounded on the south by Gaviota, on the north by Monterey County, on the east by Kern County and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Aug. 12, 1944: The first Women’s Military Unit, the Women’s Army Corps, arrived at the Santa Maria Airfield.

Aug. 30, 1945 A homecoming was held at Camp Cooke when the 13th Armored Division from California returned after service in Europe. The Black Cat squadron was among the first to return from the war and was assigned to retraining for deployment on the Asian Front.

Aug. 1, 1947: The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce was incorporated.

Aug. 3, 1946: Guadalupe was incorporated with a population of about 4,000.

Aug. 7, 1950: Camp Cooke reopened. The base was used during the Korean War as an armored and infantry training site.

Aug. 16, 1953: Santa Maria Dragons, Inc. had its first drag race where Foster Road is today.

Aug. 17, 1955: A meeting was held at the home of Ethel May Dorsey for the organization of the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society.

August 1956: The Santa Maria Valley Historical Society received keys for its new headquarters located above the South Counties Gas Company, on Main and Lincoln streets.

August 1959: The disciplinary barracks of Camp Cooke were transferred to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. The complex is now known as the U.S. Penitentiary at Lompoc.

Aug. 25, 1960: Eugene Lenz became the second man from Santa Maria to compete in the Olympic Games. John Paulsen was the first.

August 1961: The Santa Maria Valley Senior Citizens Club was organized with 20 charter members and annual dues of $1.

Aug. 19, 1961: Construction began on the $3.8 million shopping center at Stowell and Broadway. Lease arrangements were made with Thriftimart Market, Thrifty Drug Stores, W. T. Grant Company, Karl’s Shoe Store, Crocker Bank, Sally Shops, Cornet Stores plus several service shops. Completion was expected to take place in March of 1962.

Aug. 3, 1965: The 52-year-old Main Street School was ordered demolished after the Santa Maria Elementary School District decided that its condition had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer safe to use the building. Demolition took place on the following Sept. 23.

Aug. 8, 1966: Demolition of the 58 year-old Carnegie Library began, and was completed the following day. Opened in 1909, it had served as Santa Maria Library until the new library was built in 1941.

Aug. 19, 1966: Santa Maria contractor J. A. Roberts, who’d submitted the lowest bid of $11,500, began tearing down Santa Maria’s 137-foot water tower. The tank had been abandoned three years before when a 6 million gallon $200,000 reservoir was built on top of a hill south of town.

Aug. 20, 1966: The cornerstone of the old Carnegie Library was opened. Among those in attendance at this historic event were Hattie Hart Scott, Louella Williams, Gaylord Jones and Walter Stokes, all of whom had witnessed the cornerstone laying on Oct. 3, 1908.

Aug. 10, 1968: The 40-acre Preisker Park, site of the former city dump, was dedicated and opened to the public.

Aug. 26, 1968: Groundbreaking took place for the new Elks Lodge building.

August 1975: Sears became the first store to open in the new Santa Maria Town Center.

Aug. 31, 1975: The San Ramon Chapel was dedicated as California State Landmark #877. Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Bertin Foxen, great-grandson of Benjamin and Eduarda Foxen.

August 1984: Plans were made to build a flight museum in Santa Maria. The grand opening of the Museum of Flight took place July 21, 1990 with five vintage planes on display.

August 1987: Princess Hall, located on Pine Street between Main and Church Streets, was torn down.

August 1993: Holly Sugar closed its Betteravia plant.

Aug. 31, 1996: Thirty-four-year-old Blaine Johnson, a leading figure in drag racing, was killed while qualifying at the 1996 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

Aug. 12, 1997: Clarence “Scoop” Nunes, Santa Maria’s “Mr. Baseball,” was inducted into the National Semi-Professional Baseball Congress in Wichita, Kansas. Nunes, a local sports legend and longtime manager of the Santa Maria Indians, died in November of 2003.

Aug. 7, 1998: Joni Gray was appointed to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors by then-Governor Pete Wilson, and was elected to complete the unfinished two years term of Pete Staffal the following Nov. 3.

Aug. 10, 2002: Gary Leffew, 1962 Santa Maria Union High School graduate, was inducted into the Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame. Leffew grew up on the Suey Ranch.

Aug. 24, 2002: Over 200 supporters turned out to support the Allan Hancock College Boosters in its first Joe White dinner and auction to raise $150,000 to help replace the gym’s bleachers and floor.

Aug. 25, 2003: Larry Kunz, Santa Maria’s “King of Aces” hit his 2,000th hole in one.

Aug. 17, 2004: The opening of the Pioneer Valley High School marked the first time in 42 years that a new high school was opened in Santa Maria.

Aug. 29, 2005: After 80 years of family ownership, the descendants of Capt. G. Allan Hancock decided to sell the Santa Maria Valley Railroad.

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