A Beautiful Piece of History

By James Buckley   |   August 30, 2018
The front of the 6,350-sq-ft Francis Underhill designed former pool pavilion has been restored to its original look, exposing all the pillars and the rows of 100-year-old casement windows, which themselves are as clear as the day they were made. The structure is made of poured concrete and is similar in many ways to the Bartlett polo house, also a poured-concrete structure, on Middle Road. The entire 1.445-acre property sits on mostly flat mesa-like land.

There is nothing quite like this 6,350-sq-ft former “pool pavilion,” designed by Francis Underhill, on the market here or anywhere else in the Santa Barbara area, at least nothing I’m aware of and… and I can say this because I am not in the real estate business and have no stake or interest in this property… it could not be reproduced anywhere near the asking price of $5,495,000. It’s been on the market for only a month and may already have an outstanding offer, but if it doesn’t and you can afford a $5+ million home, it is most certainly worth looking at.

This former pool pavilion was just a small part of the once-fabulous Knapp Estate, but the state of preservation of this 100-year-old structure is remarkable.

The “pavilion” was built – along with the main house and the rest of the buildings and landscaped grounds – in 1918, all part of the giant Francis Underhill-designed Knapp Estate, whose main residence still exists nearby. The property was split into multiple lots in 1947 and the pavilion converted to a residence in 1950; by 1961, it sported a Mansard-style roof and its prominent front columns hidden behind shutters and wrought iron. In other words, the building was “modernized.”

The current owner’s father-in-law bought the house in 1986 and added a new exterior pool and decking in 1988. In 1992, he began restoring the rest of the exterior to its original plan, removing the Mansard roof that had been added and exposing the pillars and poured concrete walls that originally dominated the look.

Currently, there is a new electrical system, new HVAC, lighting, and a sound system. Additions include an artist studio adjacent to a back patio (the current owner’s mother sculpted here). The two-story separate guesthouse near the front gate has a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and fireplace on the first level; bedroom upstairs and a small terrace. Surrounding foliage features oak, monkey pod, palm and cypress trees.

The rest of the story will be told by the accompanying photos taken by master photographer David Palermo.

The living room features a Michael D’Angelo-designed maple floor, complemented with mahogany and ebony framing and a central skylight (one of 12); in the back is a fountain that once brought a cascade of water into what was an indoor pool and continued out to what had been an outdoor pool, and down farther to another cascading waterfall, still extant on the neighbor’s property
The kitchen is modern, large, and attractive, with a 5-ft x 6-ft center island, a six-burner stovetop, double-oven, a small anteroom that could be a pantry or home office that has its own bathroom with a tub-shower combination
The family room features another Michael D’Angelo hardwood flooring creation, along with walls of bookcases, high ceilings (most are 14 feet high), a large skylight, and views of the ocean
Each of the bedrooms (there’s plenty of room and space to create additional bedrooms) comes with its own bathroom and plenty of closet space
The outdoor pool hasn’t been used (or filled) for a number of years, so would take some work (and money) to resuscitate, but doing so would be a lot less expensive than building a new one; on the right is the pool cabana, containing a changing room, small cooking area, bathroom, shower, wet bar, and a full walk-in and secure storage area – made from the original indoor pool and probably used to protect art work – that would make an excellent wine cellar
The pool patio features substantial views of the ocean, the Channel Islands, and – looking back – the nearby mountains too
Roman-style statuary enhance the walkways around the perimeter of the property

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