April 6, 2011

A Treasure Within the Walls

1220 Mesa Road may not be a complete George Washington Smith masterpiece, but the story of how this home came to be was built around a structure George Washington Smith had designed. Nestled next to Casa del Greco, GWS second home, the house at 1220 Mesa Road was built around the detached studio made for Casa del Greco.

As stated in a previous blog, El Hogar was George Washington Smith’s first home he designed and built, once he sold that residence he moved next door and built Casa del Greco. This home was slightly different than El Hogar in that the studio was detached from the main building. As time passed the property lines were changed and the north-facing studio of this home became the center of construction. The original 1924 studio is now the great room of the home at 1220 Mesa Rd.

The studio is now apart of a 3,464 square foot residence. The home boasts 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths with a large study or room for the 3rd bedroom. On almost a third of an acre, the property has a lavish interior courtyard with a fountain, koi pond and expansive lawn.

Currently, the property is for rent at $12,500 with Coldwell Banker- Click here to view the description page.

March 17, 2011

El Hogar

When George Washington Smith first came to Montecito, CA he did not intend to settle. He had recently come back to the states at the break of World War I and had every intention of going back to Europe when it was over. Those plans stood no chance once he fell in love with Montecito, California. Coming to California from New York for art exhibits of his landscape paintings, George Washington Smith visited some friends in the area and the rest is history.

He set his permanent roots in Montecito in 1916 when he designed and built his first house as his residence, El Hogar (often referred to as the Heberton house).  From this point on Smith never picked up his paintings or brushes- he moved forward with architecture.

El Hogar is explained in great detail and admiration in David Gebhard’s exhibition on George Washington Smith: “Certainly one the interesting aspects of his work as an architect is how mature and clear a statement he was able to make in his first realized building. In truth, it can be said that this house contains his basic architectural thought and that all of his subsequent work consists of subtle re-examinations and explorations of the ideas reveled there”

A noted amenity to this property is the studio he incorporated in the home. It’s open feel and large north facing window gave insight to his artistic abilities. The window was purposely placed facing north for that gives the best saturation light for artists, allowing there to be no glare on their pieces.

Known for his patterns and tile work integration there are pieces through out the property like the benches in the garden, several exterior window coverings and wooden doors in the kitchen that exemplify his technique and skill.  George Washington Smith has also designed the garden with the lovely sightline including the home in a cohesive flow around the property and incorporating the pool. Currently, El Hogar is for rent, please see all the details on the home and more photos click here.


Gebhard, David. George Washington Smith: The Spanish Colonial Revival in California. Print.

March 9, 2011

Las Tejas

There are many great and grand estates in Montecito, but Las Tejas may be the most renowned. One of Montecito’s oldest estates, Las Tejas is recognized in the Smithsonian institution as a Historical Estate.

In 1867, confederate veteran William Alston Hayne, moved his family from South Carolina to California. Soon after his arrival in 1868, he bought approximately 175 acres in Montecito (between the now Hot Springs Road and Picacho Lane) for a staggering $17 per acre, valuing his parcel of land at $2,975.

Hayne built a large adobe home on the property and used the land to cultivate an assortment of crops, including olives, walnuts, and lemons. He became an active member of political parties in the community and in turn was the first Democrat to represent Santa Barbra in the state assembly.

Hayne’s son, William Alston II built his own adobe house on the property in anticipation of marriage. Built with local adobe and red roof tiles, designed by Francis Underhill, it was a spacious home with a central courtyard. Supposedly, he obtained more than 8,000 roof tiles for the house by negotiating with other adobe owners in the area. He dubbed the residence Las Tejas “The Tiles”.

The Hayne’s family held on to the property for some time and would rent it out to visitors. However, in 1917, Helen Thorne purchased the property. Helen, a talented and devote horticulturist, had previously transformed her gardens at her New York estate to a lavish getaway, and was determined to do the same with Las Tejas. She enlisted Architect Francis Wilson to transform the home into a gorgeous Italian Renaissance styled home inspired by the Farnaese Palace just outside of Rome. The garden in the reigns of Ms. Thorne was sprawled over 26 acres including a heliotrope garden, a Japanese garden with pond and teahouse, and a eucalyptus forest.

In 1926, she hired a friend of hers, architect George Washington Smith, to remodel Las Tejas. He renovated the central courtyard, leant input to the design of the front gardens, and outdoor patio into an Italian patio. Helen, proud of her home would often open up the gardens for weekly tours.

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the shelling of the Ellwood oil fields, Thorne sold the estate to Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Leadbetter, for $40,000. Caroline Leadbetter lived at Las Tejas until her death in 1972. By the time the estate was to be sold it was only a glimmer of the majestic masterpiece it once was. Owners past and present since the Leadbetter family have taking great care of restoring the home and luxurious gardens of Las Tejas.


“Horizon Information Portal.” Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <http://siris-archives.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?uri=full=3100001~!207130!0&gt;.


Michael Redmon. The Santa Barbara Independent A Grand EstateThe Santa Barbara Independent. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <http://www.independent.com/news/2009/may/14/grand-estate&gt;.

March 7, 2011


George Washington Smith was born on February 22, 1876 in East Liberty, Pennsylvania. Growing up in Philadelphia, he studied painting at Pennsylvania’s Academy of Fine Arts. He then went on to study Architecture at Harvard University. Unfortunately for financial struggles, GWS was unable to graduate from the University and began working with a Philadelphia architectural firm as a draftsman. Unhappy with the lifestyle his wages could support, GWS turned to bond trading.

GWS married Mary Catherine Greenough. With his quick success in bond trading, he was able to quit “work” in 1911 and focused his time on painting and the arts. The couple moved to Europe and travelled around the continent, allowing GWS to paint landscapes, study in Rome and in Paris at the Academie Julian. After 3 years abroad the couple returned to the United States, establishing themselves in New York. GWS started having his paintings showcased along side other artists and made his way to California in 1915 to exhibit his paintings in the Palace of fine Arts at San Francisco’s Panama Pacific Exposition.

While in California, Smith had visited some friends that relocated to Montecito, CA. Drawn to the area he purchased land, taking inspiration from farmhouses he had seen in Andalusia in Spain, GWS designed and built a home and studio. After building a house in 1917, called Casa Dracaena, GWS’s success catapulted. Images of this house was used to sell goods and neighbors were suggesting they would like to live in homes similar to it. Smith stopped painting and devoted all of his time to Architecture. He had plans to return to Europe after the war that were quickly dissolved and he remained in the area until his death in 1930. It is reported that George Washington Smith designed 80 homes in Santa Barbara County.


Gebhard, David. “Founding Father: George Washington Smith.” Thomas Bollay Associates. Web. 01 Mar. 2011.<http://www.architect.com/Publish/GWS.html>.

“George Washington Smith (architect).” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 18 Feb. 2011. Web. 01 Mar. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_Smith_(architect)>.