Executive Director of the Santa Maria Historical Society Cindy Ransick sat down with us and provided some serious insight about the peaceful valley that Benjamin Foxen overlooked in 1838. Fom a rich history of producing famous athletes to the iconic architect who built it all, you may be surprised by some of the historical gems Ransick lets us in on.
What is your favorite thing about Santa Maria history?
The adventure of it all. It was truly a brave endeavor for our settlers to travel by train or wagon at the end of the Civil War and trek here. I often wonder if I would have been one of those adventurous women who followed their man if I had been around at that time. I love how courageous they all were to risk everything for a new beginning.
Another really fun and interesting part of our history is the four founding fathers that connected the four quarter sections of land that became the intersection of Broadway and Main streets and form our present-day Santa Maria. We could have our own Mount Rushmore!
What is the most unique thing about the history here?
I’m impressed that there are so many athletes that have come from the Santa Maria Valley. I believe it is because our area has historically been dominated by heavy labor jobs. Typically, of men working in the oil fields or other types of labor-intensive industries. We have a rich history of baseball players with the Santa Maria Indians, a team which lasted for the better part of 60 years. They were so good that professional sports teams traveled here to play against them. Some of players became professional athletes. We’ve also had football players, arm wrestlers and basketball players that became professional athletes. From recent note, Olympic boxer, Carlos Zenon Balderas Jr. competed as well in Rio.
What makes you most excited about talking to new visitors to the Santa Maria Historical Museum?
I think of Santa Maria as the sweet spot of the Central Coast. It’s affordable, the people are friendly and it is accessible to other sights in the area. You can get anywhere from here. You really cannot stay in a better place. I am also thrilled that we have a museum and visitor’s center that our guests can easily access. It’s fun to tell the stories of Santa Maria and it’s part in California history, especially during the Civil War era.
What are some of your goals for the future with the Historical Society?
We’re gearing up for offering historical walks to our visitors. Although downtown has changed dramatically since 1905, there is a lot of great architectural history in the homes and buildings in Santa Maria. Louis Crawford, our first trained architect, is studied quite a bit by architectural students and a few professionals. He is responsible for City Hall and many other homes and public buildings. During his training he traveled to Morocco to study, and I perceive some of that influence in the beautiful yellow and blue tile design in the City Hall’s cupola.
How did you get involved in the business of history?
I love the museum business, tying together artifacts and their stories. It’s exciting to look at history through the eyes of our “Envisioneers.” I used to be the window dresser for my family’s business as well, which may have something to do with my interest in staging museum exhibits.
What is your “hidden gem spot” in Santa Maria?
Costa de Oro for a fabulous glass of wine, great local music and lots of relaxing. They have a fabulous Friday “Wine Down” (e.g. happy hour). It’s a small venue but a favorite go-to place.
The museum is administered by the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. It is open to public free of charge Tuesday through Saturday from 11 – 4 p.m. The museum if closed Sundays, Mondays and major holidays. Call for more information at (805) 922-3130 or learn more by downloading this brochure.