Our Story

Learn our story, from the beginning and into the future.

Ever since we opened our gates we have approached life (and death) differently. While some just see the end of a loved one’s life as a time for grief and mourning, we prefer to think of it as a time for reflection, appreciation and even celebration. This is evident in everything we do, from the way we conduct our services to the amenities we choose to offer. We are not a burial ground. We are a close knit community dedicated to honoring, sharing and preserving the amazing and inspirational stories that are life.

Why Us?

In a nutshell? Experience, professionalism, compassion, and empathy.

We've learned a lot over many years. Like how to present options without overwhelming. And how to meet the needs of many caring parties. People come to us in difficult times, and we respond kindness, calmness and expertise. Our goal is to create a beautiful occasion and make you feel welcome, always. We spend our days planning with families. We stay up to date with industry developments. And we make hard times a little easier.

Learn The Legacy

A Little Bit of History…

Nestled just an arm’s reach away from the corner of Santa Barbara’s busy Mission and Chapala Streets is where our beloved little white chapel has resided for the majority of the last century. However, the chapel hasn’t always been Chapala Street’s own indigenous landmark; moved twice from its originally proposed location. Once affectionately labeled, “the jewel box, the chapel has also functioned as a house of worship to various religious creeds and denominations before finally housing McDermott-Crockett Mortuary on Chapala Street. Along the way, the chapel has garnered a beautifully rich and intriguing history for itself, undoubtedly living up to another favored nickname, “The Little Church That Wouldn’t Stay Put!”

The Early Days: Creating the Chapel

When Santa Barbara’s own pioneer Trinity Episcopal Church decided to split off into a separate congregation, they sought a place that was “way out in the country”.  At the time, this location would be at the northeast corner of Micheltorena and Anacapa Streets in downtown Santa Barbara. There, they forged a beautifully statuesque structure out of carefully selected redwood pieces shipped from the saw mills of Santa Cruz to Stearns Wharf. In true ecclesiastical fashion, the side and rear windows showcased traditional features of Gothic architecture. In fact, to do such grandly labyrinthine windows justice, the chapel was appropriately fitted with custom imported stained glass fixtures. Internally, the chapel boasts intricately carved wood-vaults, buttresses, clustered columns, a raised ambulatory, wheel windows, spires and richly carved door tympanums – a true architectural gem! However, the true charm and grace of the chapel can be seen in its lovely filigree cut ornamentation laced all along the doors, eaves, and ridgepole – a treasured hand carved signature left behind by local artisans from Santa Barbara’s past.

St. Mark’s – A Baptist Chapel

The separate congregation who fashioned the chapel for their own place of worship wanted to call their church St Mark’s. Although they now had this beautiful new building, it became evident that the parishioners had exhausted their financial capacity. As a result, the little church went on the auction block! The highest bid came from the First Baptists. Just like that, the members of the short-lived St. Mark’s parish found themselves back to the parent Trinity Episcopal. The Baptists, however, used the chapel as a place of worship until they outgrew the location’s modest size and decided to relocate to a larger building in 1910.

The Little Church is on the Move!

The new owners of the chapel were the Seventh Day Adventists who jacked up the building and mounted it on rollers (hitched up by several teams of horses!) and hauled the church three blocks south to its new location on the southwestern corner of De La Vina and Anapamu where it was mounted on new foundations. The steeple was removed to avoid utility wires on the cross-town haul and was never replaced, leaving a truncated belfry in its wake. The original stained-glass was also replaced to battle what a member of the congregation called, “dark religious light.” Although the original glass was stored under the building, it was eventually reduced to shards and never recovered. Located across the street from the chapel’s new location stood a sandstone high school building. Unfortunately, like most of the buildings in the city, it was destroyed in the devastating earthquake of June 29, 1925. However, due to its ingenious engineering advantages, the only repair that the chapel needed was a twist or two of its giant structural turnbuckles. At this point, the chapel became known as the oldest existing Protestant edifice in Santa Barbara, second in age only to the famed old Mission.

The Chapel Goes to the Movies! – well, sort of.

When the Adventists needed a larger lot, they traded for one at 2020 Chapala Street – the site of the old Flying A Movie Studios! Again it was time for the little chapel to make another move – this time though, horses were not involved! Instead, a big Mack truck hauled it one block east and nine blocks north to a new location above the intersection of Santa Barbara’s very own Mission and Chapala Streets. In 1964, the Adventists moved to a larger facility and the Central Church of Christ became the chapel’s newest inhabitants!


From Spiritual to Secular

After a century of religious use, the chapel was purchased by Donald L. and Eileen S. McFarland, industrial engineers whose work emphasized design and development. They moved out on October 10, 1983, when the church was then purchased by Richard and Patricia Levee, two founders of California Time-Sharing. Although the two decided on extensive renovation on the interior of the building, they appreciated the chapel’s Victorian legacy by preserving much of its exterior architecture as it was intended to look over a century ago.


McDermott-Crockett Moves In!

Since 2010, McDermott-Crockett Mortuary has been delighted to be able to call this beautiful building home. With offices located conveniently in the back and the beautiful chapel functioning as the business’s storefront, not a day goes by when we don’t find ourselves overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of the chapel’s idiosyncrasies. The regally preserved arches in the main hall frame a breathtaking display of light which pours through the stained-glass windows in the afternoon, filling the entire chapel with a deluge of warm and peaceful rose-colored light. The place truly glows when touched by the sun. 


McDermott-Crockett’s Origins: Before 2020 Chapala Street…

While the chapel was busy making a name for itself in the community, McDermott-Crockett Mortuary was doing the same! On April 12, 1906 Mr. Emigh sold his undertaking business of Emigh & Sons to Charles McDermott. In fact, on April 12, 2013 McDermott-Crockett proudly celebrated its 107th birthday! How quickly the time flies! These moments remind us all just how far the mortuary has actually come! At this point, the mortuary was located on the corner of State Street and Haley Street. However, in the same tradition as the chapel, the mortuary just couldn’t sit still! In the 1930s the business moved again, this time to Pedregosa and State Street where it continued to flourish in the community. It was at this location that McDermott finally got its Crockett! Richard Crockett, a man who valued the simplicity and stability of time-honored tradition, finally jumped on board – the year was 1967. Even at this time, the little mortuary consistently and cordially strived to philanthropically contribute time and resources back to the community. It was these pioneering actions and implementations which set the stage for further development of future programs which ideally intended to delicately address and acknowledge the under-addressed needs of Santa Barbara’s grieving and bereaved. Considerations such as handling infant and fetal losses at no-cost to the families, specially accommodating and modifying services and goods for low-income families, and participating in educationally-mandated programs for the local schools became regularly practiced implementations instead of just simple and sporadic acts of charity. In fact, in 2005, the mortuary graciously donated all ledger books and mortuary death records in its possession to the local genealogical society. This included all materials garnered from 1914 to 1974, solidifying McDermott-Crockett’s longtime duty and declared social responsibility to strive to give back to the same community which afforded it the opportunity to establish itself as valued fixture of tradition, pride, and a tangible illustration of what it truly means to be an integral part of Santa Barbara’s community.

Up until his retirement in 2005, Richard Crockett kept the mortuary’s goals alive. For years he delicately and painstakingly fought to implement like-minded programs which would ultimately benefit the public while simultaneously eliminating the unhealthy socially-constructed taboos centered on death and dying. Happily in 2010, Richard Crockett passed the reigns over to the next generation of funeral professionals, passing the proverbial torch to his longtime protégé, Jennifer Parks. With so many new and exciting changes in its midst, the mortuary agreed that it was time for another change of scenery! With that, the mortuary finally found itself a home on Chapala Street, not far from where Chapala and Mission meet. At this point, with a new location, new management set, and a renewed lease on life, the mortuary was ready to get back to work! Jennifer, like Richard, holds a strong belief in the importance of tradition and the healthy efficacies that accompany these delicate observances. With the mortuary’s founding ideals in tow, in true warrior-woman fashion, Jennifer has made it her mission to fight for the same dreams our founders had hoped for – one family at a time, one person at a time, and at any time – day or night. Through continued support for valued organizations like Life Chronicles, Hospice of Santa Barbara, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and countless others like them, the mortuary is nothing but excited and hopeful to continue prospering as a time-honored cornerstone in such a blessed and tight-knit community.

Who We Are

In a nutshell? Experience, professionalism, compassion, and empathy.

William  Guntle

William Guntle

IN MEMORIAM...
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Jennifer Parks

Jennifer Parks

General Manager/Funeral Arrangement Counselor/Certified Funeral Celebrant
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Israel Velazquez

Israel Velazquez

Funeral Arrangement Counselor
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James  Gonzales

James Gonzales

Mortuary Staff Support and Transport
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Anthony Gil

Anthony Gil

Mortuary Transport
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Olivia Carranza

Olivia Carranza

Preneed Counselor
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Kathy  Ackley

Kathy Ackley

Funeral Arrangement Counselor/Certified Funeral Celebrant
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