SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Since 1977, a pair of baby handprints have been in the concrete on Montecito Street in Santa Barbara near the corner of Bath Street.
They were going to be dug out and hauled away with the property for a new development, but instead, they have been saved.
Jolinda Pizzirani and her family owned the site and left a lasting impression there when they had a baby boy. "When we bought this restaurant, it was called Ruth and Rogers. In about 1977, we decided to add on a front bar area and a patio, so there was work going on and they were pouring cement. So I brought my little baby out here and put his hand prints [in the cement]."
Over the years she says, "we visit them often, make sure they are clean. Make sure they are still there."
Hearing that a hotel was going into this site, she worried that a family treasure and a memory of her son as a baby would be lost forever.
"When I heard that the hotel was going in, I knew the place would be demolished and I really wanted to save those handprints," said Pizzirani.
Her son Christian now lives in the Bay Area.
The current property owner, Ed St. George, has been working with the city to get his hotel project permitted. He got the message that the handprints needed to be spared if they could be.
"He called me and said 'this is the kind of thing that makes me happy. I would be glad to do it,'" said Pizzirani.
St. George even came out in person with a worker. They used equipment to cut the concrete and pry the piece out. It was eight inches thick and no doubt very heavy.
St. George lifted it up and said, "There it is. Doesn't get any better than that."
The concrete handprints are now going home with Christian who also has the old sign from the restaurant called Christian's Continental Restaurant.
As for the future, this will become a West Beach hotel with some rental apartments and a coffee shop.