Every year, Casa del Herrero (House of the Blacksmith) throws a Christmas party for its docents. It’s always after the house is decorated for its annual fundraising gala and the Christmas tours – cider and cookies included. This year it was centered on the loggia with a lovely catered spread of yummy munchies. This was thanks to the executive director Jessica Tade and membership and volunteer manager Nichole LaViola. As Jessica reminded, “We are a staff of two and two gardeners.” When the Steedmans lived here there were 12 gardeners for the eleven acres and a staff that resembled Downton Abbey.
George and Carrie Steedman built the house with the help of architect George Washington Smith in the early 1920s when servants were easier to get. Carrie Steedman did have chickens. It turns out to keep her gardeners during WWII, she had to be an agricultural property. She quickly went out and bought chickens and voila, she had a farm and all her gardeners. One of her grandchildren, George Bass, blames his grandmother for his 80,000 chicken ranch. He had to feed her chickens when he visited.
There are still family members serving on the board, including great granddaughter Pharibe Wise, who came with her daughter Wynne Hannon from back east to attend the party. Others attending were: Susan Schmidt, Susanne McEwen, David DeSelm, Laura Wilson, Bruce Emmens, Carolyn Williams, Liz Rosedale, Sue Skenderian, and Sally Green.
To visit this National Historic Landmark located in the heart of Montecito at 1387 East Valley Road, you can go online (www.casadelherrero.com) or call 805.565.5653. The house is filled with furnishings dating back to the 13th century that the Steedmans collected. Enjoy!