Pearl Chase Society Historic Homes Tour—Editor’s Pick for Spring

Pearl Chase Tour, photo by Steve Crozier

Culley House, photo by Steve Crozier

Several George Washington Smith-designed homes in Montecito take center stage in the annual Pearl Chase Society Historic Homes Tour. Between 1918 and his death in 1930, George Washington Smith designed more than 60 residential and non-residential structures, mostly in Santa Barbara, including a home originally designed for renowned violinist and composer Henry Eichheim, which is included on the tour and features rarely seen frescoes created by the famed Mexican muralist Alfredo Ramos Martinez.

Also on view is the Culley house (pictured), which is a bit of a departure from Smith’s earlier Andalusian-influenced designs, as it’s a rectangular structure with a cantilevered porch more akin to Monterey-style, which shows his influence becoming more Spanish Colonial than old-world Spanish. In addition, the bus-led tour stops at several other homes, where visitors can see Smith’s distinctive aesthetic first hand. Advance reservations are required. May 18, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., 805/961-3938.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg sits down with Maria Herold

Maria Herold, longtime curator of the Montecito Association’s history committee, is an enthusiastic resource for those conducting obscure research or exploring land-use background. (Elite Henenson / Noozhawk photo)

Maria Herold, longtime curator of the Montecito Association’s history committee, is an enthusiastic resource for those conducting obscure research or exploring land-use background. (Elite Henenson / Noozhawk photo)

As longtime curator of the Montecito History Committee, Maria Herold knows-
literally-where the bodies are buried and the tales behind some of the most
storied families and legendary estates. Here she sits down with Leslie Dinaberg
to discuss some of her own history.

Leslie Dinaberg: How did you get involved with the Montecito History Committee?

Maria Herold: When I retired I decided that I would like to do something useful and I looked
around. I first looked into Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and I wasn’t quite
ready for their structure. I had heard that somebody was needed up here, so I
dropped in and have been here ever since. (Laughs) I just showed up!

LD: And when was that?

MH: I think about 1991.

LD: What did you retire from before that?

MH: Well, immediately before that I took care of babies … I wasn’t looking for a
job, but people asked me to take care of their babies because the hours were
perfect, my husband was a teacher and most of the people who asked me to
take care of their babies were teachers.

LD: Has history always been an interest of yours?

MH: Absolutely, because of the fact that my family has been involved with the
history of California and that has always been in the back of my mind. My
grandfather immigrated to America in 1873 and first worked in Sonoma County
and then settled in Northern Santa Barbara County and worked as a supervisor
on an old Spanish land grant.

He went back to Switzerland after he had worked here for 30 years. I was born in
Switzerland, and then I came to America when I was 16. He came when he was
15 and I came when I was 16. He came walking over the Isthmus of Panama and
I came on a freighter through the Panama Canal-so that’s history.

LD: Did you come with your family?

MH: Yes. The whole family came. … (My father) decided that instead of going to
the Santa Maria area, where he was born … he looked for the nearest place that
had a college and at that time there was a little college up on the Riviera so we
came here because of the college on the Riviera. I was the oldest child and he
wanted to be able to send me to college locally.

LD: You have an interesting history so I can see where your interest comes from.
What kinds of things do people come to the Montecito History Committee to

MH: Everything from what is the story of my house or who is the architect or how
come my house is the way it is, to I heard about the Para Grande, or I heard
about the San Ysidro Ranch. Or I heard about somebody from New York who is
following a history of a person who started out in Europe, went to New York and
then ended up dying in Santa Barbara and inspiring a story of the ghost of a
countess in a local house. It gets that elaborate.

Then, of course, people who want to know the history of a street or of a property
that they want to buy. Or there is a legislation or development and, if they’re
smart, they come here and see what the history is. There are very few people
who are smart, but they manage to keep me busy, very, very busy.

I wish more people would come in because it is always ignorance that causes
problems, legal and otherwise. And in the community it creates a great deal of
problems where people are really not well informed on the history of Montecito.
And the same thing in Santa Barbara, the same thing in Goleta. If people knew
the histories there would be much less confrontation.

LD: Do you have a favorite project you’ve been involved with?

MH: I love it that the Pearl Chase Society once gave a mandate to a lady that
they were giving grants to look into part of the history of Montecito. And they
funded this lady, not me because I’m a volunteer, I don’t take money, except for
as a gift to the History Committee. But they funded this lady to work with me in
putting together a history of a particular section. We picked this section of
Montecito and looked into it in detail, starting with a map from 1871 and then
following the history of that section up to the present time. It was a fascinating
project. It took us months and literally months and months but it ended up in two
ring books of information with lots of pictures and everything else.

LD: What part of Montecito did you look at?

MH: We looked at the area between Jameson Lane (south), San Ysidro Road
(west), Hixson Road and Santa Rosa Lane (east) and Santa Rosa Lane (north).
That encompassed old farmland that had been well known farms in the 1870s
and 1880s and 1890s and also included one of the two most historic parts of
Montecito, which is Romero Hill. So we got all kinds of background with Romero
Hill and with the farming community and now having developments, so we have
everything there on how it developed since 1871.

LD: Do the other local libraries know about your resources?

MH: It depends on who they talk to at the library … I do know that UCSB is
aware of us, the Santa Barbara Historical Society sends us people all the time,
people who come into the library and say what should I do to find out about this
and that and something else, the librarians here (at the Montecito Library) send
me people all the time. So between the Santa Barbara Historical Society and the
local library we have a lot of referrals. Also there seems to be somehow people
seem to have become aware somewhere on the Internet of our existence
because I’ve had calls from all over the continent.

LD: What is the oldest structure in Montecito?

MH: What they call the Monsignor Adobe, which is a misnomer, but everybody
calls it the Monsignor Adobe. It’s a two-story Monterey and was built long before
the Monterey Adobe was built … The Monsignor Adobe is the most classic
building, I adore it. And yet it is the oldest building that’s still excellent.

LD: And what street is it on?

MH: It’s on the bottom of Sheffield Lane where Sheffield runs into North Jameson
Lane and it’s a land marked house.

LD: This sounds like very fun and very interesting work for you.

MH: Yes, but a lot of work. I would dearly adore having a helper.

LD: It seems like there should be a college student that would be

MH: Well, you know, people keep telling me that I should get involved with
Westmont students, etc. but the thing is they leave after a year, so all that is lost.
The continuity is shot down. What I need is an apprentice who will take over
because I’m not going to last forever.

LD: You’re still going strong, though.

MH: I’m 76 years old. Start counting (laughs).

LD: What else do you do like to do when you’re not volunteering at the historic

MH: For a long while I worked at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, which I
adored, just adored. But I can’t do it anymore. I’ve had several operations for
cancer so this is quite a trip. I used to work hours and hours over there and I just
loved it, but I can’t do it anymore. Then I’m involved with music all the time, I
always have been. I’ve been an accompanist and stuff like that. I’m still a
member of a choir, I sing with a group every Sunday but this is strictly amateur
music, but I’ve always done music.

LD: So is your group you sing with a church choir?

MH: No, it’s just a group that gets together, we all can read music, we get
together and we sing what is called early music, a capella early music and we
don’t perform, we do it for the fun of exploring early music.

LD: That’s really fun. That’s a great little local activity. If you could pick three
adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?

MH: Old-fashioned, excitable, and enthusiastic.

Vital Stats: Maria Herold

Born: August 14, 1932, in Zurich, Switzerland.

Family: Husband George Herold; six grown children, Ann Herold, Matthew
Herold, Tina DaRos, Mark Herold, Monica Christensen, and Joseph Herold; eight
grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Civic Involvement: Volunteer curator with the Montecito History Committee, very
active with Mount Carmel Church, former volunteer for Recording the Blind and

Professional Accomplishments: Runs the Montecito History Committee archives;
formerly took care of babies in her home.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane

Originally published in Noozhawk on January 12, 2009. Click here to read the story on that site.

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Lynn Montgomery

Lynn Montgomery (courtesy photo)

Lynn Montgomery (courtesy photo)

Children’s book author sees the beauty in every opportunity.

Award-winning documentary producer and television writer Lynn Montgomery
recently turned her talents to Butt Ugly, a children’s picture book that tells the
story of a loveable little green mutt who needs a home. Not only does this heart-
warming story teach children important lessons about self-esteem, the book was
printed in a 100% green manner.

Leslie Dinaberg: How did you go from writing television to writing your book, “Butt

Lynn Montgomery: When I was writing television I was working 100 hours a week and didn’t
have children … I stayed in television for about 10 years, the amount of money
that they give you to write for television is obscene. And I was never doing it
really for the money, I was doing it because I loved to write and I loved to write
more than I loved to get all this money, so eventually the love of writing went out
for me in television and I decided that I would just write features and continue
with writing some books that I had started.

LD: So you’re working on both picture books and young adult books. Are they all

LM: Well I have a comedic voice. … My goal is to make you laugh and make you
cry and if I accomplish both of those then I am really happy.

LD: How did you decide to incorporate the green aspects into the book?

LM: I have always been passionate about the environment. … In writing a
children’s book, this was an opportunity to make it as green as possible. The
story is for children that is an uplifting important story about self-esteem with the
name-calling, but also is a way to educate the children about the environment
and about recycling. This book is made 100% recycled- the paper is 100%
recycled, the paper is not bleached, so it doesn’t produce any dioxins in the
bleaching processing, … most ink is petroleum-based ink, this ink is vegetable
based ink and then I even was able to go a step further. It was printed in the U.S.
because most four-color children’s books … the vast majority of four-color
children’s books are printed in Asia, in Singapore and China, and there are no
environmental standards. Ancient forests being cut down to print children’s books
where we tell stories about preserving the environment. It makes no sense to me.
So this was printed in the U.S. and it was printed by a printer in St. Louis that
runs on wind power.

LD: Wow.

1117-Butt_Ugly-540LM: I just did as much research as I possibly could to find out how could I make
this as green as green can be. … Then after the book was printed, I found out
about this new wonderful organization called Eco Libris … it’s a tree offset
company … when you make a contribution to them a tree will be planted in a
developing company. … So not only is the book green and no trees were cut
down to create this book, but also trees are being planted if you buy this

LD: That’s great. That’s really a nice give back.

LM: So you can feel good about buying the book.

LD: How does that pencil out in terms of the cost of the book?

LM: It’s twice as expensive to publish a book this way, but we have to start. I’m
not going to make a lot of money on this book, but what I’m trying to do is start a
conversation within the publishing world.

LD: And you are also donating some money from the book to CALM.

LM: Yes, some of the proceeds are going to CALM. I used to be on the board of
CALM … also some of the proceeds will go to animal rescue

LD: Are you working on another children’s book?

LM: Yes, there’s another on in the series which is called Butt Ugly Love, he falls
in love with the most beautiful dog he every saw. She’s absolutely perfect and
he’s smitten at first sight. It’s about true love and you find out on the last page as
they are strutting off into the sunset that she only has three legs. Of course he
never saw that and it didn’t matter he’s in love and she’s perfect she’s

LD: That’s very sweet.

LM: … Then there’s a third in the series,Butt Uglier, and that’s of course when
they have puppies. And then that’s it.

LD: So where are you with the books?

LM: Butt Ugly Love will be out around Christmas 09, the story is written and the
illustrator is working on the illustrations and right now she’s at the point of trying
to conceptualize what this beautiful dog that he falls in love with will look like.

LD: Is the illustrator someone you had a connection to?

LM: The illustrator is Terrie Redding, she was from Santa Barbara and she
moved to Dallas, Texas a couple of years ago. … Then my husband does all the
coloration and then the layout. I had no idea what a huge aspect of book
publishing art direction would be.

LD: What’s your husband’s name?

LM: Richard Kriegler. He is an Art Director, Matte Painter and Concept Artist and
he’s done scores of movies, and children’s films, he’s done Stuart Little and
Pinocchio and Thomas and the Magic Railroad and he also did Contact and
What Dreams May Come.

LD: That was a beautiful looking movie.

LM: What Dreams May Come, what inspired him, he did the concept work for
that movie, and do you remember the art that he disappeared into? Those were
inspired by Richard’s paintings that are hanging in our house.

LD: Oh, those are gorgeous.

LM: So I always say thank goodness I’m married to Richard because otherwise I
never would have been able to afford him … He’s also the art director for one of
the top selling videos games in the world. So I tell him that this is his penance he
has to pay for taking children away from reading, he has to art direct all of my
children’s books.

LD: How long have you been in town?

LM: We’ve been here going on 11 years. I first moved here, our big entree into
Santa Barbara, this big old run down house that had been on the market for four
years, I think. And then when we bought it somebody told me about CALM and
how they do the designer showcase house. And we had done houses before and
renovated them but never one quite this large and never one where we had two
small children. Hannah was six months old at the time. So we put the house up
to be a design showcase house … so it’s like we came into town and opened our
home to thousands of people. So I am always running into people that say, “Oh
yeah, do you still have that train bed in your son’s room?” (Laughs) Everybody in
town has been in our house.

LD: What else do you do when you’re not working?

LM: Well I love to garden, I love to go on walks through beautiful Santa Barbara,
and I mean we’re so lucky to live here. I explore areas up the coast, I love to
hike. To take care of my chickens. I love to watch the chickens in the garden. I
always feel like I’m looking at an old painting, just watching the chickens walk
through and free range in the garden, it’s so beautiful and peaceful. I think it must
lower your blood pressure.

… I’m always working on some cause. Right now it’s to the send the fifth graders
at Roosevelt to Astronomy Camp. … We need to raise $15,000 to send the kids,
and I happened to raise my hand at the meeting and said I’ll take that

LD: It’s supposed to be a great camp.

LM: … Our fundraiser is going to be a Chicken Coop Tour, Loupe de Coop on
March 22.

LD: That sounds really fun.

Vital Stats: Lynn Montgomery

Born: Upland, CA, on April 24th

Family: Husband Richard Kriegler; daughter Hannah, 10; and son Austin,

Civic Involvement: CALM, Roosevelt School, Pearl Chase Society

Professional Accomplishments: Won a Writer’s Guild Award Adapting Mrs. Piggle
Wiggle for Showtime and Universal; won an LA Emmy award for writing and
producing a documentary that dealt with the failures of the child abuse protective
system in Los Angeles; produced a 100% green children’s four-color children’s
picture book, Butt Ugly.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, It was
wonderful for getting inside the head of a dog; there are some chapters in there
that I will re-read many times in my life, but they’ll always make me cry.”

Little-Known Fact: “I have never had a beer in my life, but I love wine.”

Originally published in Noozhawk on November 16, 2008. Click here to read it.

Franceschi plan draws split crowd

If the Franceschi Park Master Plan fails to deliver planned improvements to the park, it certainly won’t be from a lack of community input. More than 100 people filled the Santa Barbara City Council chambers Tuesday night to give their comments about the plan, which has been in the works since 1998.

“The park is really a great horticultural treasure,” said Mayor Marty Blum, who approved the plan in a unanimous vote. “I hope I live long enough to see it in all its glory.”

The most debated element was the Pearl Chase Society‘s proposal to start a $250,000 endowment for the rehabilitation of Franceschi House, with an eventual plan to raise $2.1 million for the building that would then be used as a museum/library, a staff residence and for small weddings and events. While the social functions would be limited to one per weekend and only 30 guests, that seemed to be an area of great concern to some.

The granddaughter of the park’s benefactor, Dina Franceschi Fenzi, said, “The house must be a place for the study of botany, not weddings … The El Encanto is right down the road.”

“The uses outlined seem to go against the vision of the man for whom this park is named,” said Ann Beth, vice president of the Riviera Association. “He was more concerned about growing a zucchini than serving one as crudites.”

Of the 41 people who spoke out, 21 were opposed and 20 in favor of the master plan, according to Mayor Blum’s tally.

Ultimately, the council agreed with neighbors like Wendy Hawksworth, who spoke in support of the master plan. “It’s not going to disrupt the character of the park … really, its going to enhance the character of the park.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on December 18, 2003.