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Santa Monica's Early History Subject of Saturday Talk


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By Jorge Casuso

October 20, 2017 -- On July 15, 1875 Colonel Robert Symington Baker and Senator John Percival Jones held a land auction that paved the way for the establishment of the City of Santa Monica.

On Saturday, Santa Monica Conservancy docent Michael Burton will revisit the historic auction and the City's early history during a presentation at 3:30 p.m. at the Santa Monica History Museum, 1350 7th Street.

Santa Monica Lot Sales
Lot sale held on July 15, 1875 (Courtesy Santa Monnica Historical Society)

Burton will discuss "the native settlements, the City's founding and first lot sales, and perspectives on 19th century history," Conservancy officials said.

The early lot sales have become part of Santa Monica lore.

Three years before the July 1875 action, Baker and his wife, Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker, the widow of the richest man in Los Angeles, had bought 38,409 acres of Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica from the Sepulveda family for $54,000.

In 1874, Baker -- who had also bought interest in Rancho Boca de Santa Monica -- sold a half interest in his new property holdings to Jones, who had built a wharf and a railroad to Los Angeles.

The auction was a smashing success and, within months, a city seemed to magically rise by the sea.

By October mid-October, 615 lots had been sold for an average of $214 per lot and 119 houses and shops had been built.

"Two months since the site of Santa Monica was a plain under the dominion of a sheepherder," the Los Angeles Times wrote in September. "Today nearly one hundred substantial houses line its broad streets. Two hotels are overflowing with guests."

On October 13, the first edition of the Santa Monica Outlook was published, and the fledgling city had a paper of its own.

Saturday's history lecture is part of the "Discover the History" series hosted by the Santa Monica History Museum. The event is free and all ages are welcome. Seating is limited and on a first arrival basis.


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