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Pearl Chase Society Tour to Visit Smith-Designed Homes in Montecito

The Pearl Chase Society announces its 15th annual Historic Homes Tour, which will take visitors to four George Washington Smith-designed homes in the exclusive enclave of Montecito, including a home originally designed for renowned violinist and composer Henry Eichheim, as well as Smith’s Santa Barbara Cemetery Chapel, the site of remarkable murals painted by Alfredo Ramos Martinez.

Between 1918 and his death in 1930, Smith designed more than 60 residential and nonresidential structures, mostly in Santa Barbara.

Pennsylvania-born Smith studied art and architecture in Massachusetts and Paris, France, and traveled extensively throughout Europe; he and his wife moved to Middle Road in Montecito in 1916. Before becoming an architect, Smith was an aspiring landscape painter and had exhibited several paintings in the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. He found his calling in architecture after designing his Middle Road home in an Andalusian farmhouse style, which was warmly received.

Smith’s travels in Spain and Mexico schooled him in the elements of Spanish vernacular architecture such as enclosed courtyards, central fountains, loggias, balconies and thick walls. He employed large expanses of exterior white-washed walls in an effort to achieve artistic shadows from trees and landscaping.

Smith’s attention to detail, ability to fuse modern needs with ancient styles and his own original touches made him a master of revival architecture. In his latter years, he was assisted in his designs by his protégé and draftswoman, Lutah Maria Riggs, who later established her own successful practice.

The bus-led tour will stop at four homes in Montecito, where visitors can see Smith’s distinctive aesthetic firsthand. The tour will also stop at the Santa Barbara Cemetery Chapel, where Smith was interred.

The tour is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18. Tour tickets are $65 for members, $75 for nonmembers, and $95 for a ticket and a first-time-only membership. 

To purchase tickets, click here or mail a check to the Pearl Chase Society Historic Homes Tour, P.O. Box 30405, Santa Barbara, CA 93130. For information, call 805.961.3938. Advance reservations required.

— Kelly Mahan is a publicist representing the Pearl Chase Society.

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