Christmas at the Casa

By Lynda Millner   |   December 21, 2017
Casa co-chairs Kelly Cox Bilek and Jen Abed

Casa del Herrero Board of Trustees invited one and all to Christmas at the Casa, a celebration of preservation. This 11-acre estate was completed in 1925, the day of the great Santa Barbara earthquake. It sustained no damage, and Carrie and George Steedman moved in. It is now a National Historic Landmark and preserved for us all to visit, located at 1387 East Valley Road in Montecito near the library.

The picture on the invitation was unique and taken from something in the Casa – a cutting from the choir book of Louis XII, Paris, circa 1500. It shows “The Wise Mother: Saint Anne Teaching the Virgin to Read.” Yes, all the family furnishings are still intact, so you can see furniture and tiles from the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. No wonder the Christmas party is a sell-out.

Co-chairs Jen Abed and Kelly Cox Bilek and their committee created a symphony in red decorating the Casa. We were greeted with dozens of candles floating and flickering in the courtyard fountain. The back of the house was filled with cocktail tables dressed in red cloths and dozens of poinsettia plants everywhere. Two large trees were hung with red satin ribbons from their branches, and the weather was perfect. So were the hors d’oeuvres, especially the lamb chops done by Dining with Di.

The event committee included was Heather Biles, Hannah Dal Pozzo, board president Susan Jackson, Emily Jones, Jennifer Kelly, Travis Kranz, Jennifer Markham, Jennifer McCoy, Elizabeth Storm McGovern, Betsy von Summer Moller, Christina Rottman, Daryl Stegall, Meghan Stoll, and Cheryl Ziegler.

Board president Susan Jackson and executive director Jessica Tade, Ph.D., greeting guests at the Christmas at the Casa soirée
Casa del Herrero honoree Marc Appleton with his wife, Joanna Kerns
Mark Mattingly, Kristi Marks, and past Casa board president Charlie Knight at the Christmas party

Honoree was famed architect Marc Appleton who has always been so generous to the Casa. He is a perennial fixture on Architectural Digest’s AD100 list of the worlds best in design. He recently designed a new gate and entrance for the Casa del Herrero. Besides serving on the board for years, he sponsored the creation of their coffee table book with all its fabulous photos of the property. Marc’s grandfather hired George Washington Smith to build his home in Hope Ranch. Many years later, Marc was asked by the new owners to restore the estate to its former glory. George Washington Smith was also the architect for Casa del Herrero.

Board president Jackson presented Marc with a statue of the symbol of the Casa – the golden lion. Marc commented, “My grandmother gave George Washington Smith a hard time while building her home. She claimed that he didn’t know a thing about Spanish architecture.” George Steedman did the same with the Casa. There were about 400 letters to the architect. Imagine if there had been emails, the number would be more like 4,000. As Marc said, “We’re lucky to have the Casa.”

There will be a new docent class beginning February 22, 2018. If you are interested, call (805) 565-5653. Or call for tour information. It’s a treat to go though the house and gardens.


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