La Conchita: Reclaiming Its History - an exhibition of previously unknown historical photographs and documents will be presented at the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History from September 18, 2010 through March 21,2011. An opening reception for the show, co-sponsored by the La Conchita Community Organization (LCCO) will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on September 18.  Dr. Bonnie G. Kelm, who researched and wrote the La Conchita and the Rincon section of the book, Greater Carpinteria, Summerland, and La Conchita, published last fall, is curating the exhibition.

According to Dr. Kelm, one of the reasons she started this project was because there was little historical information available about La Conchita in local historical archives.  Now there is a La Conchita archive of over 400 photographs and documents and nine oral histories.  Only a fraction of this material was included in the slim chapter of the recently published book.  This exhibition provides an opportunity to present much more of La Conchita’s rich history and to showcase a number of unique artifacts and documents as well.


Highlights of the exhibition include:


The Roots of La Conchita

A brief photographic overview of La Conchita’s early history starts with the failed financial development of the seaside paradise called “La Conchita del Mar,” due to the lack of a fresh water source.  Profiled in the exhibition are the founding multicultural families who successfully settled in La Conchita.  Railroad workers, farmhands, and oil workers were people who were used to making do with less.  La Conchita became a unique multicultural, working class, coastal neighborhood and still retains the character of those roots.


Growing Up in La Conchita

Personal anecdotes or stories about “ Growing up in La Conchita” in the 1930s, 40s and 50s will be quoted on text panels and gallery notes throughout this photographic exhibition.


Pete Richardson, right, came to La Conchita in 1928 when he was 2 years old. His father, Harry Richardson was an oil worker who dug the first oil well in Mussel Shoals ( then known as Mussel Rock). Picture circa 1930 in La Conchita. ( courtesy, Yan Richardson)

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The Punta Gorda School

The progressive educational program at the landmark Punta Gorda School (where one teacher taught all six grades) will be documented through the display of original student drawings and compositions from the 1930s.  The personal photos and recollections of former students who attended Punta Gorda School some seventy years earlier will be arranged to enable exhibition visitors to view these documents as vivid memories of this unforgettable place.


The Girls Who Lived in the School

A very special and previously unknown section of the exhibition will be devoted to story of Madeline Giles, her two daughters Janet and Mary along with their cousin Rose who lived in the Punta Gorda school from 1948 to 1949 and continued to live on the school property after the school was moved to Ventura.  The story is poignantly told through the childhood writings of Mary Giles and a rare collection of photographs all contributed by Mary Giles Mc Donough


Filipino Immigration centers on La Conchita

From the 1930s through the 1950s, the tiny enclave of La Conchita was a primary first American home for Filipino immigrants coming to Central California.  This interesting fact is explored in the exhibition.


Robert W. Bates philanthropy in La Conchita

Robert W. Bates was one of the early investors in La Conchita and although he took a financial loss along with others, he continued to be interested in La Conchita and its residents.  He served on the Punta Gorda School Board, provided funding for numerous educational projects, and also assisted individual La Conchita residents.  A number of oral histories and documents cite R.W. Bates’ generosity.  Much of this information has previously been unknown.  Other philanthropic individuals who helped La Conchita in the early years will also be acknowledged in the exhibition.


Famous people from La Conchita

La Conchita has had an eclectic assortment of notable people living in its midst.    A number of them will be profiled in the exhibition.






Welcome to LA CONCHITA! La Conchita was originally established as Punta Gorda in 1880 but renamed La Conchita in 1923. La Conchita is a beachside community just 3 miles south of Carpinteria. We are located just 15 miles north of the City of Ventura, and 15 miles south of Santa Barbara. There you can attend major cultural attractions and sample well-known restaurants and regional wines. We are blessed with a very temperate climate with an average temperature of 70 degrees.

 Our residents come from all walks of life, and this is what makes La Conchita such an interesting and delightful place to live. There are 161 homes in our community and a population of 330 full time residents. Additionally we have vacation homes and some seasonal residents. We parallel the 101 Highway which will be widened to 3 lanes in each direction via a Caltrans project to be started in 2011. Included in the widening project is a pedestrian under crossing that will provide safe beach access for our residents and improvements for the bicycle travelers that pass through this area.