Christmas at the Casa 

By Joanne A Calitri   |   December 20, 2022
Casa del Herrero 20-year docent Lynda Millner with Peggy Finefrock and Kathryne Dahlman (photos by Joanne A Calitri)
Casa del Herrero honoree Laura Bridley with Executive Director Vija Hodosy (photos by Joanne A Calitri)

A wet and windy evening did not derail the annual Christmas at the Casa fundraising event at Casa del Herrero on December 10, as guests were chauffeured from the El Montecito Church parking lot to the event. There we were greeted with elegantly dressed staff who escorted us with umbrellas to the host desk and cocktail area. The warmly lit and holiday decorated historic house was buzzing with lively conversation by guests in silk lurex dresses, furs, wool pant suits, comfy booties, and wellies. Subtlety sweet flamenco guitar music by Chris Fossek was met with hors d’oeuvres by Duo Catering, and white roses in vases placed in every room. The entire house was open for viewing with docents standing by, and the outside patio areas were securely tented for mingling.

Executive Director Vija Hodosy, appointed March 2022, said at the event, “Casa del Herrero is a remarkable intersection of art, architecture, and Santa Barbara history. This year we honor Laura Bridley, a volunteer who embodies a philanthropic energy that we cherish and admire. We are thrilled to be a historic house museum that creates educational opportunities for our diverse community.” Montecito born Bridley has worked with the organization for 30 years. She drafted Casa del Herrero’s first Conditional Use Permit for visitors and served as its first executive director. Board President Karen Jones Clark, who is charged with the organization’s antiquities, added, “As the Casa is an entity steeped in tradition, we continue to have a traditional holiday party. What is special, however, about this year is that after we’ve all been closed in the last few years, it is wonderful to have a full-fledged gathering as we have had in the past and are grateful for
all the support.”

Board President Karen Jones Clark with Rebecca Anderson (photos by Joanne A Calitri)

I mingled into the living room and met the lovely Steedman great-grandchild Katherine Pharibe Wise, who introduced me to grandchild and architect Albert P. Hinckley, Jr. Wise was wearing a beautifully embroidered and fringed Spanish shawl, which she said was handed down to her from her mother Katherine, who acquired it from her mother, estimating that the shawl is at least 100 years old. Hinckley and I talked about the intricate wood carving on the living room doors, to which he explained that when they were installed, they were painted black, and their value paled in comparison to the draperies that were installed by Steedman when the house was built. These majestic 18th-century Spanish doors have been restored to their original wood base-stained deep brown, along with the black wrought iron door lock.

Guests at the event included Bill and Elizabeth Esrey, Peggy Finefrock, Kathryne Dahlman, Lachlan and Vickie Hough, Bobbie and John Kinnear, Rebecca Anderson, Joan Jackson, Lynn Kirst, Nancy Schlosser, and Michael MacElhenny.

Casa del Herrero thanks Benefactors: Karen and Stephen Clark, Marc Normand Gelinas, Michael MacElhenny,and David Wine; Conservators: the Ann Jackson Family Foundation, Karen Roberts and Bradley Dyruff, Gary Bradhering and Sheraton Kalouria, Carol and Michael Linn, Janet McCann,andthe Steedman Descendants.  


This annual event supports Casa del Herrero’s commitment to preserving George Steedman Bass’s 11-acre estate, designed by George Washington Smith, an example of Spanish colonial revival architecture in North America, listed on the National Register of Historical Places and landmarks.

Bill and Elizabeth Esrey with Steedman great-granddaughter Katherine Pharibe Wise (photos by Joanne A Calitri)

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