Preliminary Guide to the Patrick J. Maher Papers

Processed by Special Collections staff
Department of Special Collections
Davidson Library
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone: (805) 893-3062
Fax: (805) 893-5749
© 2002
Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Preliminary Guide to the Patrick J. Maher Papers, ca. 1927 - 1980

Collection number: SBHC Mss 23

Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara

Contact Information:

  • Department of Special Collections
  • Davidson Library
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara, CA 93106
  • Phone: (805) 893-3062
  • Fax: (805) 893-5749
  • Email:
  • URL:
    Processed by:
    Special Collections staff
    Date Completed:
    22 February 2002
    Encoded by:
    David C. Gartrell
© 2002 Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Patrick J. Maher Papers,
Date (inclusive): ca. 1927 - 1980
Date (bulk): (bulk 1930s - 1940s)
Collection Number: SBHC Mss 23
Collector: Maher, Patrick J.
Extent: 3 linear feet (1 document box, 3 oversize boxes, and 4 cassette tapes)
Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Physical Location: Del Sur (Box 1), Del Sur Oversize (Boxes 2-4) and Perf Arts (cassette tapes)
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions


Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

Preferred Citation

Patrick J. Maher Papers. SBHC Mss 23. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Acquisition Information

Donation of manuscript materials by Maher family, 1979; interviews by UCSB staff, 1978-1979.


The following biographical sketch is excerpted and edited from Ron Nye's introduction to the transcripts of his interviews with Patrick J. Maher:
Patrick Joseph Maher was born on January 19, 1887, in County Clare, Ireland. His early years were not happy ones. His mother, Margaret (Keane) Maher, died while he was an infant, and his father, John, left for America shortly thereafter. He was placed in the care of his grandmother and uncle, who raised him as best they could, but under conditions of extreme poverty. In 1903, at the age of 16, he rejoined his father in America. John Maher had remarried and was no superintendent of the city water works of New Britain, Connecticut.
After a four-year apprenticeship with the Corbin Screw Corporation, Patrick departed New Britain with valuable skills in machine tool making and mechanical drafting. He plied his trade in several localities in the east, and then found his way to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1912. After being employed as a machinist for three years, he accepted an invitation from his former shop foreman in 1915, and came to Santa Barbara. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and served in the 124th Aerosquadron as a supervising airplane mechanic in the United States and in Europe. Maher returned to the United States from England in 1919, a seriously ill man. Upon recovering from the effects of influenza in Denver, Colorado, he came back to Santa Barbara and to his old room at the YMCA. Poor health forced him to give up his career as a machinist, so in 1920 he began selling Dodge automobiles for the W. C. Logan Company, located at 1221-1223 State Street.
In 1922, at 35 years of age, Maher married Hortense Bianchi, born on August 25, 1898, and a native of Santa Barbara. The Mahers had three daughters: Mary Patricia, March 24, 1925; Elizabeth Beverly, May 31, 1927; and Claire Diane, June 11, 1930. They purchased a home at 625 E. Valerio Street and lived there for the next 20 years.
A man of independent mind, Maher left the Dodge dealership in 1924 and leased a Richfield service station at the corner of De la Vina and Mission Streets. A second station, at the intersection of State and Mission Streets, was leased two years later.
The great Santa Barbara earthquake of 1925 affected to some degree the lives of everyone in the city, including the Maher family. The service station was damaged, but not seriously enough to cause its closure. The family residence, however, could not be safely occupied, forcing the family to seek shelter with friends. Numerous buildings in the city were completely destroyed, but the loss of the Our Lady of Sorrow Catholic Church at State and Figueroa Streets touched Maher most deeply. He played a major role in the selling of the old property, the purchase of the new construction site, and in raising money to complete the new structure. Dedicated in 1929, the church at the corner of Sola and Anacapa Streets celebrated its fifty-year (1929-1979) Golden Jubilee anniversary, with the Mahers as honored guests.
Following the earthquake Maher became involved in civic affairs in an official capacity. From 19287-1929 he served on the Police and Fire Commission under Mayor Finley. In 1935 and 1936, in the midst of the Depression, he served in Mayor E. O. Hanson's administration as President of the City Planning Commission. The opportunity of a lifetime came his way in 1936 and he decided to take advantage of it. He accepted the City Council's offer to serve out the unexpired term of Mayor Hanson who had resigned under a cloud of controversy. "I shall conduct the administration honestly and on the square," he pledged, and went on to serve five more two-year terms as Mayor of Santa Barbara. He stepped down from office in 1945, having guided the city through the uncertainty of the depression Years and the drama of the World War II era.
Maher was firm believer in the value of public works projects, and in his early years as Mayor he took advantage of Federal Works Progress Administration funding to complete the Laguna Ball Park and the Municipal Tennis Courts in 1938. A year later Los Banos del Mar, a public swimming pool, was opened. The Naval Reserve Armory was yet another project completed under his administration.
Maher secured federal funding for a portion of the dredging program in1938, which replenished sand to the beaches, and also managed to obtain an extension of the state highway through the Westside of town to State Street. But the most important public works project he initiated was the modernization of the city's airport in the early 1940s. Federal construction was contingent on the city owning the entire property, however, so Maher led a municipal bond campaign in 1941. the next year he arranged for the U.S. Navy to lease the airport as a Marine Corps Air Station. Not only did this pump needed money into the local economy, but the Navy also spent $11-1/2 million in improvements before it withdrew in 1947.
As Mayor, Maher also worked diligently to preserve Santa Barbara's cultural and historical heritage. In 1941 he helped to raised the money to restore the El Cuartel Adobe, the oldest building in the city. He supported the growth of the State College and during his term, in 1944, it became part of the University of California system. At the state level Maher was a very active member of the League of California Cities, and was elected President of that organization in 1941. For his many years of outstanding service to the community, its grateful citizens selected Maher as Santa Barbara Man of the Year in 1944.
After leaving office n 1945, Maher moved his family to a 26 acre lemon and avocado ranch in Carpinteria. Although he loved ranching, he was not ready to retire from public service. He served on several commissions, supported passage of the 1960 El Pueblo Viejo ordinance which preserved historic and esthetically significant buildings in the city's downtown section, and was an active member of the Advisory Landmarks Committee until 1977.
A long-time advocate of environmental protection, he was named co-chairman of the Committee to Prevent Shoreline Oil Plants in 1968. After many years of public service, perhaps his proudest moment came on April 27, 1978, when the City of Santa Barbara dedicated a permanent plaque in his honor at the Municipal Airport, as a gesture of appreciation to the man who done so much for the airport and city.
Patrick J. Maher died in Carpinteria, CA, November 1985.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection contains files and scrapbooks mainly relating to Santa Barbara, 1936-1945, when Patrick J. Maher was mayor of the city. Also included are later interviews with Maher, 1978-1979.

Collection Contents

Box 1: 1


Box 1: 2 - 3


Box 1: 2


Box 1: 3

1940s, n.d.

Box 1: 4

Elections (mainly clippings)

Box 1: 5



Oral History

A/V Item A4325/C5

Judy Triem, interviewing Patrick J. Maher , Feb. 5, 1978 (1 cassette; no transcript)

A/V Item A4325/C5

Ronald L. Nye

A/V Item A4325/C5

Interviewing Patrick J. Maher (3 cassettes)

A/V Item A3691/C5

18 July 1979

A/V Item A3689/C5

26 July 1978

A/V Item A3690/C5

20 Sept. 1978 and 10 Feb. 1979

Box 1: 6

Biographical information, sample outline, and initial transcript

Box 1: 7

Edited transcript - "I Would Do It Again: Conversations with Patrick J. Maher," edited and compiled by Ronald L. Nye, Feb. 1980

Box 1: 8

Reformatted, later version of Feb. 1980 edited transcript

Box 1: 9

Photographs (b/w)

Box 1: 10 - 11

Santa Barbara (flyers, pamphlets, and other material)

Box 2 - 4

Scrapbooks - mainly clippings, with some correspondence, invitations, programs, flyers and other printed material relating to Santa Barbara and Maher's term as mayor (Oversize boxes)

Box 2

Scrapbook No. 1, 1937

Box 2

Scrapbook No. 2, 1938 - 1939

Box 3

Scrapbook No. 3, 1939 - 1940

Box 3

Scrapbook No. 4, 1940 - 1941

Box 4

Scrapbook No. 5, 1941

Box 1: 12