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THE HAZARD FAMILY
In 1885, a well-known textile industrialist and philanthropic family from Rhode Island led by Rowland II and Margaret Hazard, were vacationing in Santa Barbara and decided to purchase property here to build a winter home. They bought the parcel owned by Dr. Knox adjacent to the Mission, and subsequently tore down the main house (but kept the cottage) and constructed what is now the monastery house. Known as “Mission Hill”, their new home soon became a center of Santa Barbara cultural life and philanthropy.
Around the same time, the Hazards also leased the next door property to the east from the Franciscans who also owned the Mission. In the late 1880’s Mr. Hazard funded the construction of the stone bridge over Mission Creek in front of the property, which today is one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks. A few years later, the enclosed gazebo at the far west corner of the property was built (known as the Meditation Room today), it is believed to be the first or at least the oldest surviving gazebo in the city.
After the passing of their father in 1898, two of the Hazard adult children – Rowland Gibson Hazard II and Caroline Hazard - continued the stewardship of the property for the next 5 decades. Around 1916, the Hazards purchased the leased parcel to the east from the Franciscans and constructed the Tudor-revival style home there today, naming it the Dial House.
The Mission Canyon area just beyond the property became a haven for artists and naturalists in the 1910’s, celebrating spiritual movements and the Arts & Crafts aesthetic. Rowland had a passion for many biological and scientific interests, especially for bird egg collecting, which after his passing in 1918 ultimately led to his sister’s future involvement with the founding of the Natural History Museum.
The land where the museum sits today is adjacent to the subject property on the north side across the creek, donated by the Hazards and split off to result in the current remaining 4.93-acre current property size. At some point, the 2 parcels – the western parcel purchased from Dr. Knox, and the remnants of the eastern parcel purchased from the Franciscans - were combined to form the single parcel configuration today, though the boundary between the 2 original parcels still shows on some maps.
Caroline Hazard became the president of Wellesley College from 1899-1910, and after retiring spent her winters and springs here at the family’s Santa Barbara compound. Beyond her support for and land donation for the creation of the Natural History Museum, Caroline also helped the City of Santa Barbara purchase the land in front of the Mission which became Mission Park and Rose Garden, one of the City’s most treasured gathering places.
Caroline’s philanthropy extended to the founding of several programs for the under-privileged, and to many local historical research and artistic causes. One of Caroline’s nephews Rowland Hazard III, was a leader in the movement that eventually became Alcoholics Anonymous. Early meetings of the movement took place in the Dial House living room, connecting the continuous spiritual thread of the property from the Chumash to the founding of the Mission to the religious retreat use of the last nearly 70 years.
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