Arthur Page Brown, FAIA, 1895. One of the five Santa Barbara “cottages” known as historic Crocker Row, its combination of old-fashioned graciousness and contemporary livability seems destined for making memories. The big rooms, large hallways, front and back staircases, sliding wood doors, solid construction—all pitch perfect 1895—invite stories. The landscape of mature greenery, shade trees, and pathways that unfold around the two-story home promises time for gardening, dining, and just breathing.
Typical of late-nineteenth century Victorian-era design, social edicts regulating movement throughout are well-represented within the house. Smaller, special spaces abound within the design thus augmenting the importance of the larger public/private spaces. Combined with oversized bedrooms, bathrooms, large living and dining areas, each room adds a larger spectrum of opportunities, charm, and more flexibility in how people choose to inhabit and use the home.
These spaces include a generous foyer, two glass-walled sun rooms, a breakfast room with a butler’s pantry, a private upstairs library, and even a finished attic, together creating a sunny, elegant ambiance throughout the 3,940-square-foot dwelling. An extra serving of doors provides plenty of light and ventilation, and even better, these sometimes surprisingly located openings allow choices in path of travel, making life both more efficient … and more fun. Additionally, the sixteen foot tall ceilings on the first floor add extra volume to the already spacious rooms.
The style of the aptly named Garden Street house is an eclectic Mission Revival style, seen in the simple, rectangular volume, the low hipped shingle-clad roof, and the front entry with its prominently arched, recessed portico flanked by blocky pilasters. What sets this house apart, however, are the extraordinary embellishments in plaster, hand painted reliefs, wood, and stone indoors and out, and prominence of the seemingly modernist chimney, all of which rendered in a level of craftsmanship that any Fine Homebuilding editor would admire.
Under a lesser architect, such exuberant decoration might spoil the appetite, but not in the talented hands of A. Page Brown (1859 – 1896). First apprenticed to the renowned firm of McKim Mead and White, Brown introduced the Mission Revival style to Santa Barbara, thus establishing the city’s distinctive identity and ensuring his own celebrity. Though Brown’s career as an architect was short-lived, his contributions to the architectural record include the San Francisco Ferry Building and the California Pavilion at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
The placement of the house on its large lot is well-suited for entertaining and gardening. A generous setback from the street allows for ample opportunities in exercising horticultural skills. Native and drought-tolerant plants along with thirteen established fruit trees flank the front and rear of the property. The expansive backyard is large enough to accommodate a swimming pool.