AKA: Casa del Herrero, Montecito, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses; landscapes - cultural landscapes - gardens

Designers: Brewster, Floyd Emery, Architect (firm); De Forest, Lockwood, Landscape Architect (firm); Riggs, Lutah Maria, Architect (firm); Smith, George Washington, Architect (firm); Stevens, Ralph, Landscape Architect (firm); Floyd Emery Brewster (architect); Arthur Byne (historical consultant); Mildred Stapley Byne (historical consultant); Lockwood de Forest III (landscape architect); Lutah Maria Riggs (architect); George Washington Smith (architect); Ralph Tallant Stevens (landscape architect); Francis Townsend Underhill (architect)

Dates: constructed 1925

2 stories

1387 East Valley Road
Montecito, CA 93108-1202

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Overview

This grand Montecito estate had a host of architects and landscape architects working on it throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The Casa del Herrero, "the house of the blacksmith," as the Steedmans called it, combined the Spanish influence in both architecture and garden design, and was designated a National Historic Landmark, a great distinction, in 2009.

Building History

Architect George Washington Smith (1876-1930) and landscape architect Ralph Stevens (1882-1958) provided the original plans for the house and gardens, respectively, completed in 1925 for the Harvard-trained engineer George Fox Steedman (b. 01/05/1871 in Saint Louis, MO-d. 04/28/1940, Montecito, CA).

The Steedmans came west in 1921 while visiting James Steedman, George's brother, who was seeing Dr. William David Sansum for treatment of diabetes. George and Caroline Steedman loved the area, and gradually made plans to settle here after that initial visit. (See Casa del Herrero.com, "Steedman Family History," accessed p4/28/2016.) George Steedman, part owner (with two other brothers) of Curtis and Company, a large-scale foundry and machine shop located in Saint Louis, retired from the family business on 11/11/1918. They moved to Montecito to live part-time once their house was completed in 1925, and made it their year-round residence five years later.

According to the Casa del Herrero house museum web site, George Steedman, played a key part in the house's design: "The Steedmans’ decision to build in Montecito was probably made after a visit of several months’ duration in 1921. Between 1922 and 1925 George Steedman worked closely with George Washington Smith and Ralph Stevens in the design of the Casa and its landscape. As testament to how involved George Steedman was in all aspects of the house, he traveled through Spain in 1923 with antiquarians Arthur and Mildred Stapley Byne to view sites and purchase antiques, tiles and furniture." (See Casa del Herrero.com, "Steedman Family History," accessed p4/28/2016.) In his retirement, George turned his attention ot metal- and silver-smithing, viticulture, and photography, while Caroline focused her energies on the gardens and volunteering for the Santa Barbara Garden Club.

George Steedman died of a heart condition in 1940 and Carrie lived on the property an additional 22 years. It passed to their daughter, Medora Bass, who maintained the architectural and garden ensemble until her death in 1987. Her son, George S. Bass, turned the estate into a non-profit 501(C)3 tax-exempt organization in 1993, to preserve it intact for future generations to enjoy.

Building Notes

George Steedman also collaborated with architect Floyd Emery Brewster on the layout of his metal-working shop in the early 1930s. (See Casa del Herrero.com, "Steedman Family History," accessed p4/28/2016.)

Alteration

Smith's assistant and successor, Lutah Maria Riggs (1896-1984), teamed with landscape architects Lockwood De Forest III, and the consultants on Spanish history/antiques, Arthur and Mildred Stapley Byne, on alterations to the Steedman House in the 1930s.

PCAD id: 7955