Support the restoration of the Cota-Knox House

The restored Cota-Knox House, by Thomas Van Stein.

You may have passed the 1871 Cota-Knox House, at 914 Anacapa Street, and never noticed it. Now, it's time for a renewal. Together, we will transform this unique piece of vernacular architecture to its original appearance and enhance the historic charm of our city’s downtown. One of Santa Barbara’s earliest brick buildings and a City Landmark, the Cota-Knox House surrounded by venerable Landmarks such as the Lobero Theater, the Margaret Baylor Inn and the Downtown U.S. Post Office. It’s time to complete the revitalization of this block of our downtown.  


Building a new home for María de Jesus Olivera de Cota

María Cota moved into her new brick home after her nearby adobe home, along with those of other Californios, was destroyed when the American street grid carved through the existing downtown. Italian immigrant José (Giuseppe) Lobero, María's son-in-law, constructed her new brick home across the street from the site of his new theater, built the following year.  


Dr. and Mrs. Knox find a place in the community

Helen S. Knox purchased the house in 1878 after María Cota passed away.  Her husband, Dr. Samuel Budd Page Knox, from Pennsylvania, served as a surgeon during the Civil War and moved to Santa Barbara with Helen in 1875. Chief Surgeon at Santa Barbara County General Hospital, Dr. Knox maintained a private practice in his home.


An unusual piece of vernacular architecture

This City Landmark is an unusual melding of architectural features. Its early 19th-century symmetrical façade is combined with later-period Victorian elements including the Eastlake style front porch, a brick parapet wall, decorative brickwork, and casement windows.  


In 1976 SBTHP acquired the Cota-Knox House, along with the Pico Adobe, because of their connection with the Presidio site and descendants of Presidio families. In 1984 both properties were transferred to State Parks and added to El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park.

Restoring an architectural treasure

Many of the decorative elements of the Cota-Knox House were lost as a result of the 1925 earthquake. In 1954 the Knoxes’ adopted daughter, Gertrude Wright Knox Feeley, remodeled the house into an office building.


The restoration will include a seismic retrofit, new roof, complete restoration of the defining features of the front façade, and more. Thanks to support from the community, we raised $15,000 in 2017 to complete a contractor’s estimate, permit planning, and a color rendering of the project. This provided a scope of work and cost that we will present to City and State agencies.

We will will be undertaking this $1,300,000 project in 4-phases, and are currently fundraising for phases 1 and 2, which will secure the safety of the building. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation below to help us in this effort. If you prefer, you may use our printable form and mail it to SBTHP. Please add a note that your gift should be designated to the Cota-Knox House.


SBTHP is grateful to the Colonial Dames of America, who granted the Cota-Knox House their Award for Excellence 2019, dedicating funding for the rendering of the completed project. Members of the local chapter of CDA are shown here with SBTHP Executive Director Anne Petersen.

Mary Louise Days on Cota-Knox House, Radio Real Estate interview
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Cota-Knox House before 1896, courtesy of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.