Time Stands Still In Historic Santa Maria Neighborhood

VIDEO: Time Stands Still In Historic Santa Maria Neighborhood

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Just off the fast pace of Broadway is Palm Court Drive, a special and unique place where life is much different.

"It feels like I'm going back in time, like 'Leave It To Beaverville'," said Cindy Evans, who grew up in the historical neighborhood and still lives there today with her mother, Gloria Evans.

"The neighborhood is a very nostalgic neighborhood where people built their own homes. Palm Court is a very wholesome, safe place to live and the people are good people, you feel like it's America at its best."

Truly a slice of Americana, Palm Court is nearly a one hundred years old. Built in the early 1920's, it was the first planned residential community in Santa Maria.

"The homes are all individual," said longtime resident Gloria Evans.  "They're all different, there are no cookie cutter houses in this neighborhood, they're all unique."

Evans has lived in the same Palm Court house since it was built in 1950. Her home was one of the last houses to be built in the community, which was originally designed for 64 residences.

"I absolutely love this neighborhood. We have friends here, neighbors that have been here for a long time," said Gloria Evans.

The distinctive, circular neighborhood is clean, well-landscaped and maintains a quiet, friendly ambiance. Many residents, like Evans, have lived there for for several decades, including Phyllis Rodenberger.

"You have that feeling of neighborhood that's not available at too many places," said Rodenberger. "When you're in here, your mind says, this is home."

Rodenberger, who lives in the same house she grew up in, has called Palm Court home just shy of 50 years.

Remnants of the past remain visible and operational, such as the street's the original lampposts and sidewalks.

"Things have not changed that much here," said Rodenberger. "Some of us have added a room on or have changed the landscaping or something like that, but basically it's the same place we lived in and grew up in."

Like Evans and Rodenberger, Palm Court resident Bobby Manfredi also has longtime roots to the street.

"I've actually lived in three different places and my great-grandmother had a house across the street, which i spent a lot of time in, which i guess would make the fourth place," said Manfredi.

Manfredi says when people ask him where he lives and he responds, there is usually a sense of wonder and astonishment. The reputation of the Palm Court neighborhood carries a certain cachet within the surrounding Santa Maria Valley.

Last year, Palm Court Drive was officially designated as a Place of Historical Merit by the City of Santa Maria. The distinction has let others learn what residents here have known all along.

"It is like living in a storybook neighborhood, it's like a magical experience," said Cindy Evans.

"Once you get here, you just don't want to leave," said Manfredi. "It's nice, the people are nice and friendly. It's just a very pleasant place to live."

Palm Court Drive is just one section of Santa Maria's "Carriage District," which includes several surrounding streets, such as Camino Colegio, East Morrison and Speed Streets. For anyone who has not visited the historic area, a drive or walk down any of these streets is truly like a trip back in time.

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