ON THE TOWN: Casa del Herrero honors ‘Architects of Change’

  • Casa del Herrero


August 25, 2013 12:13 AM
by Erin Graffy
Santa Barbara Newspress

One of the benefits of living in Santa Barbara is being able to reside in or around extraordinary architecture. Another is that this community cares enough to safeguard these structures for others to enjoy.

The Casa del Herrero Foundation works to maintain, preserve and restore the home gardens and history of the Steedman/Bass estate for the benefit of the community and others. This exquisite home was designed by renowned architect George Washington Smith.

Casa del Herrero recently co-hosted an elegant evening called “Architects of Change,” showcasing the work of Smith and his draftsman, Lutah Maria Riggs, at Los Sueños, the home of Gretchen and Robert Lieff.

Executive director Molly Barker explained, “We are celebrating the partnership of two amazing architects, George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs, who designed over 40 Santa Barbara residences and many of our iconic buildings. Two of those remarkable houses include Casa del Herrero, Montecito’s own National Historic Landmark, which was commissioned in 1922 at the beginning of their work together. The other was Los Sueños, built in 1929, just a year before George Washington Smith’s untimely death.”

Those who love history, art and architecture were there, appreciating the mastery of the remarkable designers. Guests included Hattie Beresford and Patricia Ottoboni (Pearl Chase Society), Keith Mautino (Courthouse Legacy), architect Edwin Lenvik with wife Marcia, art historians Lynn Matteson and Lynn Kirst, designer Kimberly Phillips and artist Corinna Gordon.

Celebrated archivist Melinda G·ndara, from UCSB’s architecture and design department, spoke to the captivated audience of some 200 people, including Peter and Tina DaRos, Gwen and Henry Baker, Jane Burkemper, Nancy and Tom Bollay, Harry and Karen Kolb, Lois and Mark Mitchell, Susan and Jim Neuman, Irene and Mel Sahyun, John and Jane Dailey, Joanna Kerns, Maxi Decker and Lou Greer Frost. Officers of the Casa del Herrero board of trustees were present with their spouses: president Gail Kay with Jerome; vice president Laura M. Bridley with John; treasurer Henry Nevins with Nanette; and secretary Hilary Niemann with William. Trustees included: Marc Appleton, Jane and Bruce Defnet, Bobbie and John Kinnear, Charles T. Knight, and Bob and Carolyn Williams.

“The architecture of both homes provides intimacy yet with a feeling of expansion, and direction toward views of the garden.” Ms. G·ndara said. “It is fantastic that we still have people taking great interest (in) and care of these magnificent homes.” She then drew attention to the upcoming project of improving the entrance to Casa del Herrero.

Ms. Barker concluded, reminding us, “Here in the 21st century, Santa Barbara is still a community of sophisticated owners who respect and honor our architectural legacy. Just as Gretchen and Robert Lieff have done a remarkable accomplishment in restoring and preserving Los Sueños, there are other George Washington Smith homeowners who take great pride in their homes. Casa del Herrero is the community’s home to preserve and care for …. and we truly appreciate and rely on your support.”