The Goleta Valley Historical Society is pleased to announce the installation of its Joseph Sexton Family exhibit at the historic Sexton House, 5490 Hollister Ave.
A prominent member of the community, Sexton is best remembered for his nursery business, which flourished in Santa Barbara and Goleta from 1852 until his death in 1917. He introduced countless plant species to the area and provided many of the trees and ornamentals that enriched the beautiful gardens for which Santa Barbara has been celebrated.
One of his most successful crops was pampas grass. The grass had been grown in the United States since 1848, but it garnered little attention until Sexton single-handedly started a fashion craze during the late 19th century at the height of the Victorian Age. Most of the million plumes — the top grade of which was greater than 26 inches long with 5-foot-long stems — went to London and Hamburg where they were died various colors. Americans in New York preferred their plumes snowy white.
When the family grew (there were eventually 14 at the table), so did their need for space. In 1880, Joseph and his wife, Lucy, commissioned Santa Barbara's premier architect, Peter Barber, to design the Italianate house which now serves as the centerpiece of Pacifica Suites. Located near Old Town Goleta, the “Joseph & Lucy Foster Sexton House” was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
“We are very pleased to create an exhibit for the Sexton House, honoring this prominent local family that had a very close connection to the Stow family and Rancho La Patera,” Goleta Valley Historical Society Director Amanda De Lucia said. “This is an opportunity for us to share our collections with our community and visitors, and to showcase the one of the influential families whose contributions are seen to this day.”
The Sexton House is open to the public to view on the property of Pacifica Suites Hotel, 5490 Hollister Ave. To view this exhibit, please call the front desk of Pacifica Suite Hotel to check availability at 805.683.6722. Upon arriving, please visit the front desk at Pacifica Suites for access into the Sexton House.
The Goleta Valley Historical Society has also dedicated a room to the Sexton family in the Stow House at 304 N. Los Carneros Road in Goleta. Rancho La Patera & Stow House is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment. The mission of the Goleta Valley Historical Society is to collect, preserve, interpret and foster research of Goleta Valley’s history through exhibits, programs and stewardship of the historic Rancho La Patera, home to the Stow family.
— Dacia Harwood for the Goleta Valley Historical Society.