Park in front of Orpet Park on Alameda Padre Serra or at the El Encanto Resort (we will end your tour at the resort). Start your walking tour of the Riviera by meandering through the park. Former Park Superintendent E. O. Orpet established this 4-acre, two parcel (both sides of the street) park as a horticultural showplace in 1921. He made an extremely active park superintendent. He supervised plantings along Cabrillo Boulevard as well as the islands in the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge. The planting of olive trees along Olive Street was largely his work, as were the cork oaks in the Samarkand neighborhood and the magnolias on San Andres Street. He also was instrumental urging the use of ice plants along California highways. The park itself features distant ocean views, rare plants and trees, picnic tables, and walking paths. Cross at corner of Alameda Padre Serra and Lasuen Road. Note the reproduction of the original streetcar stop at the corner which is now a historical landmark. Now walk up the walkway and stairs to Riviera Park. Check out the fountains, the theatre and the early 20th century buildings. In 1909, the State of California selected Santa Barbara as the site of a new Normal School of Manual Arts and Home Economics which would later become the Santa Barbara College. As part of the terms to establish the school, the state required the city to provide land for the campus and transportation for students and faculty. Local banker Charles A. Edwards responded by donating 14 acres of his Upper Riviera tract. To which the city extended its streetcar line from the Santa Barbara Mission up to the Normal School site, later adding a short extension to Moreno Road; both of which would be removed in 1930.
Walk by the lotus pond and fountain to the Quad Building and turn left. When you get to the street turn right and walk up to Mission Ridge. (Total distance approximately .15 miles) Turn right on Mission Ridge. Continue up Mission Ridge Road past Las Tunas Road for approximately .5 miles. During this portion of the walk, take in the view to your right of Santa Barbara High School and it’s football field, the Granada theatre and downtown State Street, the pier and on a clear Day the Mesa in the distance. 5 houses past Las Tunas Road just past 1704 Mission Ridge Road look high up on the cliff to your left and you will see a bust of Mr Franceschi overlooking Santa Barbara. Emanuele Orazio Fenzi, better known as Francesco Franceschi (1843–1924), was an Italian horticulturist responsible for vastly increasing the botanical variety of Santa Barbara (introducing more than 900 species). He was also for awhile the primary landowner on the Riviera, our loaf-shaped hill overlooking the city’s downtown. Continue on Mission Ridge for approximately .3 miles and turn left onto Franceschi Road and you can enter Franceschi Park on your left. Franceschi Park is a 15-acre urban park on Santa Barbara’s Riviera, offering spectacular, panoramic views of the City. This park was once the home of famed botanist Francesco Franceschi and still provides a tranquil horticultural resource for the community. The park includes exotic plant varieties and celebrates the aesthetics of Mediterranean-climate landscaping. Spend 15-30 minutes or so here taking in the view from the benches and seeing what remains of his house and the botanic gardens that once were here. Walk back out to Franceschi Road and turn left. Note view of the top of Santa Ynez Mountain from Franceschi Road. Continue on Franceschi Road to Hillcrest Road (approximately .45 miles) Turn left and take in the views of the backside of the Riviera. Continue on Hillcrest Road for approximately .4 miles and once again cross Mission Ridge Road, enter the Sheffield Reservoir and do a loop around. (Approximately .5 miles) The original open air reservoir was built in 1917 on what was at the time a remote 20-acre parcel in the foothills of Santa Barbara. The reservoir was named for Eugene S. Sheffield, one of the city’s first water commissioners, who in 1896 proposed the construction of Cold Spring Tunnel. The tunnel which can still be found today along the west fork of Cold Spring Creek was built as a solution to the city’s water needs. The tunnel was dug straight into the Santa Ynez Mountains to gather, as Mr. Sheffield had speculated, the water that naturally seeps in the mountains.
During the earthquake of 1925, which also damaged the Santa Barbara Mission, the original reservoir dam was destroyed sending 30 million gallons of water rushing down Sycamore Canyon and flooding parts of what is now the East Side. In 1936 the reservoir was rebuilt under the Public Works Administration with a water capacity of 40 million gallons. In addition to the new 800 foot dam, a filtration plant was also constructed. The plant, which is still standing, was designed by local architect E. Keith Lockard.
Because the 25-foot deep reservoir was open air it was susceptible to wind-blown contaminates and required the use of chlorine. However the chlorine itself could react with sunlight and water and create for example algae blooms as happened in 1996. In 2002 the Environmental Protection Agency reduced the allowable limit for such disinfection byproducts in drinking water. This change prompted the City to seek an alternative design for the reservoir.
In 2004, having secured funding, the City replaced the open air reservoir with two buried 6.5 million gallon concrete reservoirs. The City worked with neighbors and other local stakeholders to create the design you see that was both functional and would provide an open space environment.
Continue back to the intersection of Hillcrest Road/Mission Ridge Road/Mountain Drive. Walk carefully down Mountain Drive for approximately .3 miles past Foothill Road. Go past Foothill Road and continue down Mountain Drive under the oaks with great views of the Mission Canyon hills. Turn left on Tremont Road. (approximately .4 miles past Foothill Road) Walk on Tremont and go past Riviera Ridge School on your right (approximately .2 miles) HISTORY. Cross Las Tunas Road on your left and Tremont Road turns into Mission Ridge. Walk approximately .3 miles to Alvarado Place and turn right. The El Encanto Resort entrance is on your left. Finish your walk here with a bite or a libation.
TOTAL DISTANCE APPROXIMATELY 3.7 MILES