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On the Market: Landscape Architect Lockwood de Forest's Santa Barbara Home

  • September 09, 2015 14:39

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Lockwood de Forest estate
Paula Goodwin, Sotheby's International Realty
Feature at the Lockwood de Forest estate
Paula Goodwin, Sotheby's International Realty

Lockwood de Forest III (1896-1949) was an astute painter of poetic landscapes like his father, the renowned artist-designer Lockwood de Forest Jr. (1850-1932). Yet the younger de Forest (known professionally at Lockwood de Forest Jr.) chose instead to design landscapes, particluarly California gardens, where sweeping vistas were framed by native oaks and silvery or aromatic shrubs. Known for his private estate designs and public gardens in Montecito and Santa Barbara, Calif., de Forest's landscape vision is now offered for sale with his own residence.

New York City natives, the de Forest family followed an exodus of early 20th-century East Coast elite looking for a mild winter in coastal Santa Barbara and the grand estate enclave of Montecito. The elder de Forest was first a painter in the Hudson River School tradition, then an established designer who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany in the Associated Artists group. Long a leader of the Aesthetic Movement, he became inspired by East Indian craft before turning his attention back to landscape painting upon moving permanently to Santa Barbara in 1915.

His son, the younger de Forest, had begun in 1912 at Thacher School in nearby Ojai, where he developed a deep appreciation of the West Coast landscape. After attending Williams College and Harvard University in Mass., de Forest completed one year of study at the University of California, Berkeley's new landscape architecture program before heading straight into a career.

Paula Goodwin, Sotheby's International Realty

Between the world wars, the younger Lockwood de Forest and his wife, Elizabeth Kellam de Forest, were central to establishing a Southern California aesthetic of landscape architecture. De Forest's work emphasized an integration of indoor spaces and outdoor views, and incorporated native plants while being informed by classic English garden design.

The couple founded, edited and published The Santa Barbara Gardener from 1925 to 1942 (considered a precursor to today's Sunset Magazine). Lockwood de Forest left to serve in World War II, returning to landscape architecture until his untimely death in 1949 at age 53.

The couple's first Santa Barbara home was damaged in a 1925 earthquake. Elizabeth's parents then gifted them a property in the oak-studded Mission Canyon district, at 2659 Todos Santos Lane, which is now offered for sale. The listing is priced at $3.695 million.

Designed and built by the younger de Forest in 1927, the 3,958 sq. foot Roman-style residence with stucco walls and a tile roof is centered around a courtyard, on an approx. .76-acre near the historic Santa Barbara Mission. Features include five fireplaces, tiles from Damascus, teak wood panels from India in the entry, and lush gardens with a central water feature that reflects de Forest's design style. Home and garden plans for the estate are archived at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Writes Trish Reynales, a frequent contributor to Santa Barbara magazine: "Each room in [the de Forest] house had a view of a garden it was decorated to complement. From their silver-ceilinged dining room, one gazed upon black Irish yews. The library, with its dark wood furniture, looked out on a light-hearted flower garden of brilliant whites, blues and yellows. At the center of the house was a classically simple courtyard, with a fountain in the center, a sink for flower arranging made of marble and Damascus tiles, a carved teak cabinet to hold their collection of urns and vases, a few clivia, and a single almond tree."

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