by Nora Kassner
In June of 2011, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum donated a wooden sign to SBTHP. Reading “This Side Private,” the sign illuminates the later years of the de la Guerra family’s residency in Casa de la Guerra. A 1912 court case, possibly the reason for the sign, pitted Josepha de la Guerra and her tenant, Miss Burk, against Francisca de la Guerra de Dibblee. The question: whether shoppers coming to Miss Burk’s art store could use the house’s courtyard or whether it belongs solely to family members still living in the Casa. Francisca won the suit, but the case foreshadowed the growing commercial use of Casa de la Guerra.
From 1912 until they moved out in 1942, Delphina and Herminia de la Guerra, Pablo de la Guerra’s daughters, stayed in the East wing of the Casa as shops, and eventually the El Paseo complex, sprung up around them. At some point during those thirty years, they put up this sign to keep the public away from their rooms. Casa de la Guerra’s period as a family residence ended when the sisters moved out. The Historical Museum’s generous donation will help visitors to the Casa explore this critical period in the building’s history.
The sign is currently on display in the East wing of the Casa, where Delphina and Herminia once lived. For more information about Casa de la Guerra, including the hours of operation, click here.
Noras Kassner is a Classics major at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN. She interned in the curatorial department at SBTHP during the summer of 2011.