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Six Year Fight To Save Historic Beach Cabana Is Over

By C.J. Ward, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Anchor/Reporter, cj.ward@keyt.com
Published On: Mar 06 2014 02:33:09 AM CST
Updated On: Mar 06 2014 02:55:09 PM CST

Santa Barbara County Historic Landmark #49, also known as the Irene and Frances Rich Cabana has been saved. The county threatened to have the beach side cabana in Hope Ranch torn down because of work that was done over the years without a permit. It setup a showdown between current building code and rules that apply to historic landmarks.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

Santa Barbara County Historic Landmark #49, also known as the Irene and Frances Rich Cabana has been saved.

The county threatened to have the beach side cabana in Hope Ranch torn down because of work that was done over the years without a permit. It setup a showdown between current building code and rules that apply to historic landmarks.

But late Wednesday afternoon, the planning commission voted 4 to 1 to preserve the cabana "as-is".

Beach side cabana's like this one used to dot California's pristine coastline, but very few remain.

It was built in 1956 by actress Irene Rich, one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1920's and '30's. But, Rich had help from Santa Barbara's most influential residents of the time. Pearl Chase would spend time at the cabana doing landscaping and Harold Chase acquired the land.

Over the years, celebrities such as Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Steve McQueen, racing legend Enzo Ferrari and artist Diego Rivera would return year after year to vacation here.

The current owners, Lee and Julia Carr fought for more than six years to save the cabana from county officials who wanted to tear it down because some changes made to the cabana over the years did not meet current building codes.

John Woodward, former chair of the county Historic Landmark Commission, told NewsChannel 3 in November the county's efforts to tear down the cabana and the reasoning behind it was like declaring war on all historic landmarks. Woodward questioned what it would mean for Santa Barbara county's other 48 historic landmarks.

Wednesday's decision to save the cabana allows the Carr's to maintain and repair the cabana so it survives for many years to come.

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