About This Place
Summerland is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Barbara County, California, United States. The population was 1,448 at the 2010 census, down from 1,545 at the 2000 census.
The town includes a school and a Presbyterian Church. There are many small businesses.
Tar from natural oil seeps in the Summerland area was long used as a sealant, both by the native Chumash peoples and by the Spanish builders of the Mission Santa Barbara, who used it as waterproofing for the roof. In 1883, Spiritualist and real estate speculator H.L. Williams founded the town of Summerland. He named it as an advertisement for the excellent weather, and in 1888 divided his land tract, on a moderately sloping hill facing the ocean, into numerous parcels. He promoted the tiny lots – 25 x 60 – to fellow spiritualists, who bought them in quantity and moved to the area. The houses they built included bizarre architectural features such as doors which opened to walls, and stairways ascending to nowhere. The spiritual center of the town was a community séance room, demolished only when Highway 101 was put through in the 1950s.