By Edward Mackie, Daily Nexus, February 16, 1977
Shortly after his death, Colonel Colin Campbell had asked to be buried at the tip of Coal Oil Point (Sands) in a private cemetery within a circle of cypress trees where “the crashing surf would sound a requiem throughout eternity.”
Campbell’s distraught widow devoted herself to the completion of his dreams and poured more than $500,000 into the lavish manor house (now known as Devereux School). The residence was completed in a Spanish mission motif with seven master bedrooms and a great raftered living room measuring 25′ by 50′. The ranch included garages, barns, a boat launch, a bath house and servants’ quarters.
Her lavish abandon culminated when a half-mile long caravan of moving trucks on a sleepy morning in 1924 delivered tons of priceless objects d’art to the Campbell mansion.
During the Twenties, Campbell Ranch provided the scenario for one of the ost glittering events in the history of the Goleta Valley. A meticulously assembled dance floor and full dress orchestra were brought in to entertain Price George of England. The cream of the social crop from all of California flocked to the Campbell Ranch.
Nine years after Mrs. Campbell died, a host of Hollywood stars and industrial magnates rumbled to the ranch in such a parade of Rolls-Royces as Goleta had never before seen. The ninth of June 1941, was the day Campbell Ranch was placed on the auction block.
The treasures of a remarkable collection included $150,000 worth of silver – some of the finest examples of 19th century English craftmanship. The list of items for sale filled three large volumes. 17th century Ishpan and Samarkand rugs crossed the auction block.
Of great interest to bibliophiles was a copy of the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” by Lawrence of Arabia. A letter accompanying the book indicated that Lawrence did not want to include Mrs. Campbell on his list of 30 subscribers to the original edition. Competition among the well-heeled book bidders proved stiff. The successful bidder was movie star Cary Grant, who paid $1,500 for the prized volume.
Colin Campbell’s personal collection of silver proved of special interest. The tableware had, however, been so deeply engraved with his initials, C.C., that prospective customers shied away. The C.C. monogram became a strong enticement for the eventual buyer – Charlie Chaplin.
The estate itself produced no satisfactory bids until many years later. After World War II, the ranch – its mile of private beach frontage, ornate guest house, duplex apartments, steel pier, machine shops, boating lagoon and seven acres of garden landscaping – was sold to the Devereux Foundation and subsequently became a school for special education.
Among the critics of this once unpopulated area is the 80 year old retired blacksmith from Goleta, Jim Smith. “I worked there (Devereux) and plowed there when I was a kid,” commented Smith. “Back in ’98, it was a dry year for the whole country. I hope we never see one like that again.”
Upon request of this writer, Smith revisited Campbell’s grave and bath house after a hiatus of more than 40 years. “That cross might as well be in Siberia,” lamented Smith. “All the iron gates (which Smith had forged) are gone from the cemetery. There used to be vaults on top of the ground for Campbell’s body. They’re all gone now.”
On that unfortunate day, Jim Smith observed the excrement littered about Campbell’s grave and the children clambering over his granite cross. Yet, Colin Campbell believed that he had chosen a grave where the “crashing surf would sound a requiem throughout eternity.”