In the late 1800s, wealthy tourists from across the nation—many from the snowy Midwest and eastern states—began to vacation in Santa Barbara, lured by reports of fantastic weather and a gorgeous natural setting. At first, they stayed in posh hotels like The Arlington (Santa Barbara’s first resort hotel, built in 1875), The Upham (built in 1872) and The Potter Hotel (built in 1902). But many of the vacationers decided they wanted to stay here year-round, bought property and built lavish residences to accommodate their families and staff. Montecito was considered a prime location for such estates, as the idyllic climate and scenery provided the perfect setting for those seeking respite from cold winters and the hubbub of urban life.
By the 1920s, grand mansions sprouted up throughout Montecito, from mountains to the sea. Many reflected the hybrid Mediterranean and Spanish-Colonial Revival architectural styles that were popular at the time.
Montecito continues to lure residents who seek peaceful refuge in a magnificent natural environment with creeks, hiking trails, wildlife habitats and verdant gardens. The following pages include stories about both contemporary residences and several historic mansions built between 1920 and the early 1930s. All serve as excellent examples of the various ways Montecito residents created their own slices of paradise in this spectacular setting.
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Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.