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Sherman Loomis

S Loomis Saddlery
Saddlery-Saddle Maker
1821-1886

Sherman Loomis arrived in Santa Barbara in the 1850s from Pennsylvania. He opened a saddle and harness shop on Ortega Street and in September 1870 moved to 714 State Street where he remained until after the turn of the century. On February 8, 1898, Ira Loomis proprietor of the S Loomis harness and stamped leather business. Left for San Francisco to take a position with a wholesale leather and harness house. Thus ended the dynasty of the Loomis saddle. The business was sold to the Tomlinson Brothers in 1898.

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Sherman Loomis, a native of Pennsylvania, established his Santa Barbara saddlery in 1858. His business prospered and he moved his shop from Ortega to State Street in 1870. By 1875 he employed seven saddlers and harness makers including Jose Alvino Mesa, master saddler and stamper. Though Loomis never lacked competition in Santa Barbara, his firm was the earliest, largest, and longest-lived. Judging from surviving examples, his work was also superior in terms of design, craftsmanship and decoration. His was the shop of choice for wealthy rancheros, both Hispanic and Anglo.

At the time this saddle was built, in the late 1870s or early ‘80s, Santa Barbara had a well-deserved reputation for the beauty of the floral stamping of its saddlery goods. This reputation was enhanced in 1883 when Princess Louise stopped to admire a saddle in Loomis’ shop, and asked if the art form used to decorate the saddle could be applied to smaller items. She returned to England with several portfolios and ladies’ belts done in the style that became known as Mexican Art Leather.

At the time of his death in 1886 Sherman Loomis’ shop was a family affair with four of his sons listed as employees.

The Loomis shop was sold in 1898 to Herbert and George Tomlinson who operated at the 714 State Street address through 1920.

 

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