Casa del Herrero: Was It a Dream?


Last week in Santa Barbara I visited Casa del Herrero, a historic home and garden designed by George Washington Smith, the architect who is pretty much responsible for Santa Barbara's Spanish Colonial Revival style.

The place was a vacation home for George Fox Steedman, an industrialist who made his fortune in ammunitions but also loved to tinker–he was a blacksmith, builder, and tinkerer.  The house is more or less intact, and still holds architectural and garden drawings, an amazing library, and all sorts of other artifacts.  If you're ever there, go take a tour.  Here's why:


This dreamy view from the edge of the formal garden.  You get past the perfectly-trimmed hedges and the formal Moorish design and you see this.  That thing out there is just a relic–something to gaze upon and contemplate.


Freakishly huge Dracaena draco. Bleeds red sap.

This was Mrs. Steedman's flower-arranging sink in the courtyard.  Not bad, eh?


And this was Mr. Steedman's mad scientist/blacksmithing workshop.  I don't even know what to say about this.  It was all too astonishing to comprehend.


Here are the ribbons Mrs. Steedman won for her flower arrangements.  What you need to understand about this is that the ribbons are mostly stacked ten deep.  There have to be hundreds of them.


And here are some of her vases.

Really, this place is just unbelievable. If you're ever in Santa Barbara, go check it out.

There's a new book out about the house from Rizzoli; check it out here. Interestingly, Rizzoli designed a cover that emphasized the architecture, figuring that would sell more books, but the foundation that runs the house wanted another image that emphasizes the gardens, so they have their own specially-designed dustjacket for the book, available only to visitors of the house and garden.


  1. When I see homes and gardens such as this , I am in awe of the volunteers and associations that have dedicated so much time to preserve such a wonderful piece of art and history for all to experience.

    So much has been written and publicized about Casa del Herrero’s neighbor, LotusLand, that Casa del Herrero is often missed, but it’s history is just as rich and the artistic elements in and around the house are just as beautiful.
    I love the classic endemic Santa Barbara tile work around the flower arranging sink.
    Thanks for this visual treat.

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