Berkeley parks

Fifty years after its dedication: the Pearl Chase Garden at UCSB

By Cheri Rae

Education was everything to Pearl Chase, who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1909, Santa Barbara Normal School in 1912, taught Santa Barbara High School, and received an honorary doctorate from the Mills College in 1940.

Chase, along with publisher Thomas Storke and other community leaders, was instrumental in shaping the educational establishment of Santa Barbara State College upon the university’s establishment in 1944. She remained a loyal supporter throughout her life.

In 1972, Chase was honored for her years of community leadership, vision and service by the University of California with the dedication of a garden named “Pearl Chase Garden”.

1972: Chancellor Vernon Cheadle escorts Pearl Chase on the opening day of the Pearl Chase Garden. (CREDIT: Courtesy of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation)

Then-Chancellor Vernon Cheadle was joined by officials including Mayor Gerald Firestone and California Department of State Parks Director William Penn Mott, Jr., and some 200 guests at a reception on Sunday afternoon. A bronze plaque was revealed, reading “Dedicated to the distinguished citizen of Santa Barbara who has dedicated her life to the cause of conservation, our historic heritage and the beauty of our city”.

Cheadle praised her for her interests in “historic preservation, civic protection, conservation education and ecological planning”. And he thanked her for designating the university as the repository of his voluminous conservation and community development collection. He noted that his donation, for years to come, would enable “students and other scholars in our region to study this vast collection of manuscripts to better understand the educational work, the tireless effort, the cooperation of countless citizens caring about the public necessary to achieve Pearl’s ideals.

[NOTE: Although it’s often referred to as the “Pearl Chase Collection,” she refused to have the treasure trove of historical information named for her. Instead, it’s called the Community Development and Conservation collection, housed in the UCSB library’s Special Research Collections.]

2017: Repair work at Pearl Chase Garden and surrounding areas. (CREDIT: Steve Dowty)

After a long standing ovation, Chase took to the podium and began her comments by thanking the university “for keeping an open space like this with its lawn and trees. And planning to keep it that way is something for which we should be very grateful at the university.

Characteristically, she shared the credit with the audience. “Each of you has contributed specifically to one or more of the lines of effort that we have worked on together over the years.” She continued, “The credit for initiating some of the things mentioned is definitely not mine. Perhaps the continued assistance in following the guidelines and thoughtful planning has been a privilege that I have been fortunate enough to allow myself.

A recent visit to Pearl Chase Garden reveals that the massive project to install new storm sewers and seawater pipes is nearing completion and the garden remains intact. The open space delimited by several trees, is located at the edge of the lagoon. The walking paths provide a lovely stroll and two well-placed garden benches make this a lovely place to relax, contemplate and reflect.

NOTE: This article appears in the January 2022 issue of The Capital, the Pearl Chase Society’s monthly newsletter. Through a special agreement with the Society, we will continue to publish a monthly article from the publication to help keep our readers informed about historic protection and preservation issues. Contact the Pearl Chase Society at