(SANTA BARBARA, June 6, 2006) — In 1915, much of America had its eyes on a European war that became known to its generation as the Great War. In that year, cowboy actor Bronco Billy Anderson was a popular silent movie star and the Boston Red Sox were baseball's World Champions. That same year, the Automobile Club of Southern California opened its first office in Santa Barbara at the Chamber of Commerce to serve a growing membership. It was among the first five local Auto Club offices established throughout Southern California.
Today, Santa Barbara is home to almost 90,000 residents and now the Auto Club serves 65,000 members in the Santa Barbara area at 3712 State St.
"The Santa Barbara office encompasses one of the oldest geographic areas served by the Auto Club the longest," said Nancy Alexander, team lead of the Auto Club's Santa Barbara office. "Our more than 90 years in the community is a milestone that shows how the Auto Club remains committed to serving members locally."
Community leaders are expected to join Alexander on Friday for an open house to commemorate the 91st anniversary of one of the city's oldest businesses. A display of vintage photographs depicting the Santa Barbara region and Westways magazines dating back to the 1950s also will be a featured part of the celebration.
An “open house” will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with music by The Fog oldies band from 1–4 p.m.. The open house also will feature vintage vehicles, including a 1929 Ford Model A and a 1932 Chevrolet Tow Truck from the Auto Club’s vintage vehicle collection.
Some of the Auto Club’s Show Your Card & Save partners also will be on hand that day, including the Grand Canyon Rail Tour Operator, Pleasant Holidays and Lenscrafters. Refreshments also will be served.
"We’ve been a part of the community as a member of the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce since 1915," Alexander said. "We participate in the Santa Barbara and Goleta Chambers of Commerce, as well as the Greater Santa Barbara Lodging Association."
The opening of a Santa Barbara office was part of a rapid expansion of the Auto Club from a 3,000 member group of enthusiasts in Los Angeles in 1912, to motorists in all 13 Southern California counties. By the time Santa Barbara opened in 1915, the Auto Club had more than doubled its membership to 6,500.
When the Santa Barbara office began operations, there were probably more horses in Santa Barbara County than automobiles, Alexander added. State records indicate that 191,196 vehicles were registered in California in 1915. Today, there are more than 21 million vehicles registered statewide.
In those early years, there were few directional signs, so motorists were likely to get lost while taking a drive. Auto Club members took on the responsibility of signposting thousands of miles of streets and highways in Southern California. The Auto Club also worked with local cities and county boards of supervisors to pass bond initiatives to build, expand and improve state highways. Even before opening its Santa Barbara office, the Auto Club helped raise contributions for the Rincon route between Ventura and Santa Barbara.
|Santa Barbara Office Locations Since 1915|
Chamber of Commerce
1014 State St.
1425 State St.
1301 Santa Barbara St.
3712 State St.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has served members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, and car buying programs. Information about these products and services is available at www.aaa.com.