Wood Glen Hall History 101

Wood Glen Hall in its early days

Want a slice of Santa Barbara history? Just take a look at Wood Glen Hall!

Here is the story of this wonderful place, as told by Kellam de Forest:

The story of Wood Glen Hall can be traced back to the vision of Mrs. Aileen Barnes Wood and her husband Adrian (Buddy) Wood.

Wood Glen Today
Wood Glen Today

After the end of World War II, the need to provide for the growing population of senior citizens became evident. Having the elderly live with their children and grandchildren was becoming less feasible as the children moved away to obtain employment. Housing for seniors had, became more expensive.  At a national conference on the problems of the aging, in 1951, the late California governor Earl Warren stated that the goal was “to see that our senior citizens may live through their later years in dignity, security and usefulness.”

Responding to this call, the Woods spent three years studying ways they might help.  They decided after consulting with gerontologists to establish a new type of facility here in Santa Barbara where able-bodied seniors could reside comfortably at reasonable cost.  Preference would be given to Santa Barbara County residents “forced by circumstances to live in homes of children or grandchildren.” It would be non-sectarian and with no nursing care provided. 

By April 1955 a suitable site was found at the intersection of Alamar and Foothill Road.  Mr. Wood purchased the five acres out of his own pocket for $36,000.  The not for profit Wood Glen Corporation was not incorporated until November.  The property had been part of Willowbrook Farm, a dairy farm that extended from Alamar to Laurel Canyon Road and north into the mountains.  The farm dates back to before 1924.  Milk, butter and eggs were purchased directly from the Joe Corberlti family, owners of the farm.  It ceased operation during Word War II. The huge cow barn and milking sheds were landmarks on Foothill Road until their demolition. 

In September of 1955 a San Francisco architectural firm, Stone, Mulloy, Marraccini, and Paterson, which specialized in hospitals was retained to design a building containing thirty single rooms and ten doubles.  Plans for the one story Spanish Revival with modern touches went to the Planning Commission in April 15, 1956.  Construction commenced in September.  The facility was completed by October 1957. 

Features included shade trees, badminton court shuffleboard and a horseshoe court. A wood working shop and arts and crafts room were included. The official dedication was November 3, 1957.

Fifty residents could be housed.  There were 10 double rooms with full baths and 30 single rooms with half baths with bathing facilities close by. /there was a large dinning room that doubled as an entertainment hall.  There even was a small stage at the north end. The residents were not charged rent, but only for the cost of operation, maintenance and food, which was estimated to be from $150 to $175 a month.

Changes have occurred since 1957.  Twenty-three rooms were added to the north end of the facility in 1961.  Half baths were converted to full baths with the addition of shower stalls. The biggest change was the gradual evolution from residential to assisted living.  By the late 1970s it was becoming apparent that the institutionalized setting of nursing homes was no longer acceptable for most aging seniors and their families. As advances in medicine and introduction of the wheeled walker allowed seniors to age in place, many were balking at the idea of being placed in a nursing home.

Wood Glen Hall after nearly 64 years continues to reflect the vision of its founders Aileen and Adrian Wood in providing “elderly men and women with an ideal, non-institutional home at minimum cost.”  Its founders were on the forefront of carrying out Governor Warren’s goals for senior citizens both locally and in the state.

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