History of Hillside House

History of Hillside House

History of Hillside House

In the Beginning…

In the late 1930’s, Hollywood movie mogul George Cukor recruited a London-trained nurse, Muriel Evans, who specialized in the care of people with developmental disabilities, to work in Ojai with his niece, who had cerebral palsy.

Miss Evans was soon joined by Joan Flanders, a physiotherapist from New Zealand. Under their direction Hillside House evolved into a cerebral palsy treatment center. Together they moved this center to 501 North Ontare Road in Santa Barbara. Fifteen residents, ranging in age from 2 to 18 years, comprised their initial enrollment.

Non-Profit Incorporation and the Cecil Cooprider Years…

Therapy Pool
Therapy Pool

In 1945 Hillside House was incorporated as a California Non-Profit Corporation.

Cecil Cooprider succeeded Miss Evans as administrator shortly after World War II. The Board of Directors made plans for a larger facility where they could care for more residents and provide a wider variety of therapeutic services. Following a successful fundraising campaign from 1947-1949, negotiations began for the purchase of over 30 acres of land on Veronica Springs Road, known as “Pine Grove Farm.” The purchase was completed in 1951.

Extensive efforts by Cecil Cooprider, his wife Loretta, and the Board of Directors resulted in substantial donations from a wide group of people and organizations. Discounts on labor, materials, services and contractors reduced the project’s cost. Construction of the new facility, with room for 59 residents, was completed in April, 1955. Hillside House was soon filled to capacity.

Cecil Cooprider’s term as Administrator of Hillside House lasted more than 35 years. One of his most important achievements was securing the participation of the Assistance League of Santa Barbara in volunteering their time for various activities with the residents.

Today Assistance League continues its generous support of Hillside House’s “wish list” of needs. The Assistance League of Santa Barbara moved their local headquarters into a newly-constructed building adjacent to Hillside House in 1965. Hillside House is proud to have them as a neighbor and grateful for their continuing program and volunteer support.


Today at Hillside House

Today Hillside House continues to be licensed by the California Department of Public Health as an Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled (ICF-DD). We provide a home for 59 residents and employ a staff of 90. Hillside House’s primary goal is to foster growth, awareness and self-sufficiency in its residents, allowing them to attain as high a level of independence as possible.

The development of our Community Plan on our 24-acre campus will create a safe environment where diverse people of different needs can flourish. We are planning for an inclusive community with ten six-bed group homes for our residents as well as housing for members of the greater Santa Barbara population. Residents will continue to receive high-quality, round-the-clock care and individualized attention to which they are accustomed.

They will also enjoy greater independence and interaction in a diversified community with people of varied ages, backgrounds, occupations and abilities. The completion of this plan will not only provide financial security for Hillside House and improved quality of life for our residents, it will also secure a home for generations to come.

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