Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker
known as the "godmother of Santa Monica"
Born in 1827 San Diego, Alta California,
First Mexican Republic
to one of the richest landholding families in San Diego
Part of elite society in los angeles call californios
Californio - Direct descendants from Spain who settled in California before it became part of the United States
Californio - Spanish speaking residents during Spanish California and Mexican California, between 1683 and 1848
CALIFORNIO - DIRECT DESCENDANTS FROM SPAIN
1683 TO 1848
during Spanish California and Mexican California
Arcadia Bandini de Stearns
Arranged marriage at age 14
to one of the wealthiest men in Los Angeles
Abel Sterns (43 year old)
She ruled Los Angeles society in this period
Hosted many balls and grand social functions for elite californios
entertaining and hosting many elite guests and influential political figures
Abel Sterns died in 1871, at age 72,
leaving all of his fortune to Arcadia
They did not have any children.
Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker
1875 she married Colonel Robert S. Baker (1826–1894)
HE WAS HER SAME AGE
who owned 33,000 acres in Los Angeles (now called Santa Monica)
she created the original map for the city plan and layout
subdivided and developed about 50,000 acres in West Los Angeles
Colonel Baker died in 1894,
They did not have children.
leaving his money and estate to Arcadia
one of the wealthiest women in America
the great benefactress of Santa Monica
Arcadia Bandini never spoke English,
but rather did business in Castilian Spanish with an interpreter - like other elite californio women
She donated a great deal of her land
to the city of Santa Monica for Palisades Park
to the government to form a National Home for Disabled Veterans
(now the Veterans' Administration)
to churches to schools to clubs
ARCADIA died in 1912 at age 85
2,000 people attended her funeral
she had no children
and did not leave a will
her death launched a large-scale court battle for control of her enormous estate
Californios are Hispanic people native to the U.S. state of California, direct descendants of Spanish settlers from the Viceroyalty of New Spain and Mexicans (after Mexico became independent from Spain) who settled in the state of California before it became a US state in 1850.
Like most Hispanos, they differentiate themselves culturally from the population of Mexican Americans whose ancestors arrived in the American Southwest after the Mexican Revolution
She was born in 1825 into the Bandini Family, one of the most prominent California families, whose vast ranchlands spread from San Diego through Riverside and San Bernardino.
At age 14, Arcadia, with her significant dowry, entered into an arranged marriage with Abel Stearns, age 43, whose shipping and other commercial enterprises made him one of the wealthiest men in California.
They lived in "El Palacio" on the corner of Main and Arcadia Streets, near Olvera Street.
The 1860 census lists their household as having 19 members living in the more than 20,000 square foot residence – Abel Stearns, Arcadia Bandini, Refugio Bandini, Arcadia's sisters, nieces, nephews, distinguished guests, secretaries, servants, painters, and laborers.
Stearns died in 1871, leaving his entire fortune of land and money to Arcadia, by then in her 40s.
In 1875, the same year that Santa Monica was first planned out, the widowed Arcadia married Colonel Robert S. Baker, business partner of Senator John P. Jones, the founder of Santa Monica. Arcadia and her husband divided their time between their Los Angeles residence in the ornate Baker Block and their home on Ocean Avenue, known as Ocean Cottage.
Baker owned rancho San Vicente, bought from the Sepulveda Family for $55,000. The Rancho included all of Santa Monica and its borders were Pico, Sepulveda, Topanga, and the Pacific Ocean. Two years later Baker sold a portion of the rancho to Senator Jones for $162,500.
By 1879, Arcadia, wealthy in her own right, bought out her husband's land and business holdings, and with Baker's death in 1894, expanded her business partnership with Senator Jones to establish the Santa Monica Land and Water Company, which subdivided and developed 50,000 acres in West Los Angeles.
In the 1890s, she and Senator Jones were responsible for the donation of the land we now enjoy as Palisades Park.
She was reported to never have spoken English but conducted all conversations in her perfect Castilian Spanish, with an interpreter always present.
Arcadia lived to the venerable age of 85, dying in 1912, the same year as Senator Jones. She left an estate valued between $8 million and $15 million, but no will and no children led to a famous court battle over her estate – the largest ever probated in California.
Arcadia Bandini made donations of land, all over the Los Angeles – region to be used for parks, schools, orphanages, and other projects that were of public benefit. As there was no facility for veterans of the Civil War west of the Mississippi, she donated the land for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Sailors (now the Veteran's Administration).
wealthy Californio landowner and socialite of Los Angeles.
Arcadia de Stearns Baker was known as the "godmother of Santa Monica" and a "great benefactress" for her contributions to and vision for the formation and development of the city
As she created the original map for the city plan and layout, her aesthetic vision was crucial in structuring Santa Monica. She donated a great deal of her land – for example, to the city of Santa Monica for Palisades Park; to the government to form a National Home for Disabled Veterans (now the Veterans' Administration); to the government to create the first experimental forestry station in the United States; and to schools, churches, and clubs (like the Bay City Women's Club)
In 1879, de Stearns Baker bought out her husband Colonel Baker's land and business holdings and officially became the business partner of John Percival Jones. In 1897, de Stearns Baker and Jones founded the Santa Monica Land and Water Company, which "subdivided and developed about 50,000 acres in West Los Angeles.
Her father Juan, born in Peru, was considered the "first citizen of San Diego," and the Bandini family home, Casa de Bandini, was the center of San Diego society. The social gatherings and dances in the Bandini home and gardens were so renowned that Juan Bandini achieved legend status and was labeled by historian Winifred Davidson as the "Prince of Hosts."
her father Juan Bandini, a former revolutionary himself, supported the Anglo American invaders during the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt. His extensive business dealings with Anglo American men like Abel Stearns led him to believe that the future of California would be American, not Mexican. Bandini and her sisters Ysidora and Josefa were said to have made a United States flag out of fabric from their own clothes and put it up at Juan Bandini's San Diego ranch in 1847
DEDICATED TO ARCADIA BANDINI DE BAKER, 1827-1912. FOR HER LOVE AND DEVOTION TO SANTA MONICA AND GENEROUS CONTRIBUTIONS OF LAND TO BENEFIT THE PEOPLE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE CITY
BY THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA, BANDIDI FAMILY AND FRIENDS, SANTA MONICA HISTORICAL SOCIETY, MASAHITO SANAE SCULPTOR. OCTOBER 18, 1987