The Old West Lives In Santa Barbara County
The Santa Ynez Valley surrounds the five towns of Santa Ynez, Ballard, Los Olivos, Solvang and Buellton. Aptly named "The New Town" when it was founded in 1882, Santa Ynez retains its historical western flavor with some of its storefronts still intact. By 1889, the town had become the focal point of the Santa Ynez Valley, both socially and economically, complete with mercantile stores, blacksmith shops, garages, grocery stores, a barber shop, harness shop, millinery shop and several saloons. The College Hotel, pictured above, was once the town's main lodging establishment complete with Victorian design and sixteen roof turrets. The Hotel, which stood on Sagunto Street just south of Edison Street, hosted guests from all over the world. The stagecoach from Santa Barbara stopped in Santa Ynez at the College Hotel twice a day in the late 1800's then proceeded down Edison Street toward the main stagecoach stop at Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos.
Among the early settlers in the Valley were members of the Craig and Raymond families. Edna Raymond married Elza Craig on June 10, 1908 in Santa Ynez. Edna was 17 years old. The Craigs built their home on Edison Street in the Township of Santa Ynez. The home was situated on the site of what is now the ForFriends Inn and remained one of the oldest homes in Santa Ynez until its destruction by fire in 1962. Ownership of the property remained with the Craig family until 1994 when it was sold to the Inn's owner.
Edna Craig played piano and became the town's second librarian in 1929, a position she served in until 1961. Elza, a barber by trade, built a town meeting hall known for many years as Craig's Pavilion. The Pavilion was located adjacent to their home on the site now occupied by the Red Barn Restaurant (currently being rehabbed to reopen as a Brothers Restaurant).
The Pavilion served as a town meeting hall and also offered midnight suppers and dancing. Legend has it that during prohibition, a "bottle" could often be found behind the bar. Edna and Elza ran the Pavilion until Elza's death in 1938.
Inspiration for the design of ForFriends Inn came from a combination of local history, the magnificence and Victorian flair of the College Hotel, and the graciousness of the Hewes Mansion, built by California pioneer David Hewes in 1881, south of Los Angeles. Construction of the Inn began in 2002, with the erection of the garage and the water-tower themed building to the rear of the property. Construction of the main building began in 2003 and was completed in August of 2004. Victorian, Craftsman and western era detail within the Inn was finished in December of 2004 and the Inn opened its door in time for the Christmas Season.
Special thanks go to Terry (Craig) Thomas and Ray Craig, whose grandparents and parents brought vitality, hard work and achievement to the growth of the Township of Santa Ynez and to the Valley. Along with information from the historical Santa Ynez Library, a testimony to the skills of Edna Craig, and photos courtesy of the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society, Ray and Terry have been gracious in lending their personal recollections of life in Santa Ynez, along with family photos and literature.