BY JORDAN KILLEBREW | LEER EN ESPAÑOL
Nestled in Montecito, on the highest point of an 11-acre property, is a Spanish Colonial Revival Style mansion named Casa del Herrero. Casa del Herrero, or “The House of the Blacksmith,” is the only National Historic Landmark in Montecito and was home to George Fox Steedman and his wife, Carrie Rob Howard Steedman. The estate has turned into a nonprofit that opens its doors to the public for collaboration, education programs, and tours.
In the early 1920s the Steedmans, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, came to Santa Barbara to visit George’s brother James, who was being treated for diabetes by Dr. William David Sansum, the founder of Sansum Clinic. Spending summers in the area, the Steedmans forged a relationship with George Washington Smith, ultimately working with him to design the Casa.
Santa Barbara was hit with a devastating earthquake in 1925 and George Steedman moved into the perfectly intact home that same day, as his hotel and most of the area suffered severe damages from the disaster.
Steedman, known for his inventiveness, forged silver as a hobby and was a blacksmith in his own right. His large workshop in the home displays his aptitude for invention, and numerous patents suggest he was a man ahead of his time.
His wife was fond of gardening, and especially loved to grow camellias and roses. The estate has several beautiful garden spaces designed by Ralph Stevens, Lockwood de Forest, and Francis T. Underhill. Each area is planned with precision, offering beautiful views and unique flora.
The Steedmans left the Casa to their daughter Medora, who recognized the importance of the home and its connection to the community. After her death, her son George Steedman Bass worked to turn the property into a private foundation which was established in 1993. Today, Casa Del Herrero is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization where Executive Director Jessica Tade stewards the Steedman family legacy.
“Our primary role here is the preservation of architecture and history,” said Tade. “George Fox Steedman and his wife Carrie were creative individuals and their home is an expression of that creativity that we now share with the community in various ways. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County comes to glean all the fruit trees, community members come to learn about gardening and create floral arrangements, and we are developing youth education programs to inspire creativity, an important tool essential to tackling challenges in life.”
To stay up-to-date with technology, Casa del Herrero received two grants from the Santa Barbara Foundation. The first was an Express Grant for a communications strategy to develop a brand and update their website for tour reservations. The second was a Capital Improvement Grant to update hardware and software.
“Funding from the Santa Barbara Foundation allowed us to completely overhaul our technology and rethink how we communicate with the community,” said Tade. “We are grateful for the support to assist us in our ability to lay a strong foundation for our organization.”
The estate is open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays every week by reservation only. To learn more about Casa del Herrero or to plan a trip, please visit their website at CasaDelHerrero.com. If you are interested in collaborating with Casa del Herrero, please contact Jessica Tade at Tade@CasaDelHerrero.com.