The Bellosguardo Foundation has started offering guided tours for small groups at the mystical Huguette Clark estate while its permit application for larger public access is still being reviewed by the City of Santa Barbara.
The 23½-acre, waterfront estate at 1407 E. Cabrillo Blvd. was built by the Clark family in the 1930s and owned by heiress Huguette Clark until her death in 2011 at age 104.
Clark bequeathed the property and its 21,666-square-foot mansion to a nonprofit foundation to foster the arts, along with a valuable doll collection and millions of dollars in cash.
The $100-per-ticket, docent-led tours were made available to donors and early supporters on the foundation’s email list.
Tour dates for December through February were available and they sold out immediately, according to Siteline.
“We ask for your patience as the property is gradually opened for day-to-day tours,” the Bellosguardo Foundation’s website says.
“A historic landmark, much of the interior furnishings are antiques. Opening for tours is a gradual process that requires a thoughtful approach to ensure the property is protected. We are offering small docent-led tours to our early supporters.
“We are actively working with the City of Santa Barbara for approval of a conditional-use permit which will allow for even greater public access. As permitting is approved, we will expand tour sizes and frequency.”
The city is still reviewing the foundation’s conditional-use permit application for guided tours and special events at the property, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge west of the Santa Barbara Cemetery.
The foundation has also applied to install portable access ramps, portable restroom trailers and a parking lot for guests and employees.
The Planning Commission will review the application, but there is no hearing date scheduled yet, according to project planner Kathleen Kennedy.
The Historic Landmarks Commission must also sign off on the plan since the estate is a city landmark.
These tours are the first time the property has been accessible to the broader public, or at least members of the public who are on the foundation’s email list.
The foundation hosted a gala fundraiser at the estate in 2018 and has held several private events, including weddings, at the property since then.
The slow progress of opening the property to the public has frustrated locals, as has the decision to allow private events in the meantime.
“The foundation is fully committed to opening the property to the public as soon as possible,” foundation president Jeremy Lindaman told Noozhawk in October 2021.