If you’ve ever passed through the intersection of Milpas and East Canon Perdido streets in Santa Barbara, you may have noticed the large plaster cow on the roof at 901 N. Milpas Street. Her name is Bossie, she’s 80 years old, and she’s the beloved icon of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, which has operated underneath her watchful gaze (literally) since the 1960’s.
In 1939, the building was originally designed and constructed to house the Live Oak Dairy. As an homage to the cows (pastured in nearby Montecito) who provided fresh milk and cream to local residents, the owners of Live Oak Dairy paid $1000 to sculptor Alfred Kuhn for the plaster cow, and placed her on the rooftop above the corner entrance. She became known as Old Bossie.
Old Bossie has seen a lot in her 80 years. It quickly became a Santa Barbara High School tradition for seniors to sneak onto the roof and paint her in bold colors, a tradition which remains to this day. In 1965, Santa Barbara awoke to find her costumed in a flower-trimmed poncho and sombrero, emblazoned with the SBHS team name “Dons ’67.” In 1971, Bossie was decapitated with a ripsaw. She was repaired and hoisted back up to the roof. She has been adorned with everything from passionate political graffiti to the stolen bell from a nearby fast-food restaurant.
Over the years, the Live Oak Dairy building has been through many changes, but Old Bossie has remained, a quirky reminder that this building has been churning out fresh and delicious dairy products for 80 years.