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924 Garden St

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Designation Status: Designated City Landmark

Assessor Parcel Number: 029-301-027

Historic Name: El Caserio

Constructed: 1930-1937, 1954

Property Description:

Grouping of 7 "studios" or bungalows around El Caserio Lane, a private street. Primarily one-story except for one two-story with a tower. Houses are white stucco with low gable and flat roofs. Variety of window treatment: large sashed picture windows; sashed casement windows. Tile roof. Houses are grouped among adobe walls and picket fences.

Architect: Louise Murphy Vhay 1930-7, Lutah Riggs 1948-53

Architectural Style: Spanish Colonial Revival

Property Type: Residential court

Original Use: Studios for musicians and artists


Designated City of Santa Barbara Landmark (11/06/1990).

A group of dwellings originated by Louise Murphy Vhay, a wealthy woman from Michigan who moved to Santa Barbara in 1919. The residences are connected with many significant historical figures. J. J. Plunkett designed a studio here for himself, and another one for John Gamble, a California landscape artist who had done the murals for the Fox-Arlington Theater. The Hollisters bought two studios as residences, and the houses were remodeled by celebrated architect Lutah Maria Riggs. Other residents include illustrator Don Freeman, furniture designer Paul Tuttle, and artist William Hesthal. A Newspress article in 1959 called El Caserio Santa Barbara's version of Greenwich Village.

Significant as a City Landmark as per City Council findings (Resolution No. 90-183) by the following criteria:

A. Its character, interest or value as a significant part of the heritage of the City, the State or the Nation. Because the bungalows were owned and designed by many prominent members of the Santa Barbara community, the properties are significant to the heritage of the City.
C. Its identification with a person or persons (Lutah Riggs, JJ Plunkett, John Gamble, the Hollisters, Don Freeman, Paul Tuttle, William Hesthal) who significantly contributed to the culture and development of the City, the State, or the Nation;
D. Its exemplification of a particular architectural style (Spanish Colonial Revival) or way of life important to the City, the State, or the Nation;
E. Its exemplification of the best remaining architectural type (Spanish Colonial Revival) in a neighborhood;
F. Its identification as the creation, design, or work of a person or persons (Lutah Riggs) whose effort significantly influenced the heritage of the City, the State, or the Nation;
G. Its embodiment of elements demonstrating outstanding attention to architectural design, detail, materials and craftsmanship;
I. Its unique location or singular characteristic representing an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood.
J. The property has the potential to yield significant information of archaeological interest because the site was previously owned by the Cordero's in the 1800s, and previously sited at least one large adobe structure as late as 1921.

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