7 Santa Barbara Architecture Books to Cherish

Many distinguished architects have contributed to the growth and beautification of Santa Barbara. The city is known for its harmonious melding of Mediterranean, Spanish, Mexican, and other stylistic influences. To view examples of these styles, you should look in the pages of the following books:

Santa Barbara Architecture: From Spanish Colonial to Modern

Now in its third edition, this book by Herb Andree is published by Hennessey & Ingalls as number 27 in its “California Architecture and Architects” series. A favorite with architecture students and enthusiasts, the book’s photographs cover the period from the turn of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st, lovingly depicting the city’s buildings in the Spanish Colonial Revival, Mission, Mission Revival, Mediterranean, Victorian, and Modern styles.

This title has grown considerably over the course of its various editions. Originally published in 1970, its 1995 revision for the third edition encompasses more than 300 pages of photos and text.

Santa Barbara Style

In 2001, former long-time Santa Barbara resident Kathryn Masson published Santa Barbara Style in collaboration with photographer James Chen. The book offers more than 200 lavish pages that evoke the magic of the city’s glowing adobe walls, charming streets, elegant estates, and well-tended gardens. Among the buildings Masson surveys are ones designed by architects such as Bertram Goodhue, George Washington Smith, and Addison Mizner. Covering a wide range of styles, she examines structures hundreds of years old, such as the famed Casa de la Guerra in Santa Barbara’s downtown, as well as more recent treasures, including Villa Lucia, which was constructed at the close of the 20th century. Masson’s book also stands out for its discussion of Native American influences.

Casa California: Spanish-Style Houses from Santa Barbara to San Clemente

Author Elizabeth McMillian and photographer Melba Levick joined forces to produce this distinctive tome on architectural style in the Santa Barbara region and beyond. The 1996 Rizzoli publication is a detailed depiction of some two dozen Southern California residences that exemplify the most luxurious elements of Spanish-inspired design. The book covers the Mission and Mediterranean styles in homes constructed from the Jazz Age to the 1990s, examining tile roofs, fountains, garden landscapes, and more. David Gebhard, an art historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, contributes a scholarly foreword to the book.

Spanish Colonial Style: Santa Barbara and the Architecture of James Osborne Craig and Mary McLaughlin Craig

Written by Pamela Skewes-Cox and Robert Sweeney, and produced in consultation with the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, this book provides a comprehensive survey of the Craig’s Spanish Colonial Revival designs that make the city an international destination for architects seeking inspiration.

In Skewes-Cox and Sweeney’s book, readers will discover in detail the reasons for the Spanish Colonial Revival style’s adoption as the design idiom of choice for Santa Barbara. The quiet elegance of whitewashed walls, curving red tiles, dark-beamed ceilings, and other Andalusian-inspired elements have an enduring appeal for Santa Barbara’s residents and visitors alike.

Santa Barbara Living

Author Diane Dorrans Saeks and the editors of Santa Barbara Magazine have assembled a lively text to complement Lisa Romerein’s photos in this Rizzoli publication, which highlights some of the most luxurious aspects of life in the Mediterranean-like coastal city. Spanish, French, and Italian influences are all present in the opulent homes on which Romerein turns her lens.

Californian Architecture in Santa Barbara 

Architect H. Philip Staats served as a member of the Santa Barbara Plans and Planning Committee during the 1920s, when the city was struggling to rebound from earthquake damage. Staats, who designed homes in neighboring Montecito, played a key role in the development of Santa Barbara’s post-quake Spanish Colonial Revival renaissance. The book Californian Architecture in Santa Barbara, published by Rowman & Littlefield, showcases Staats’ collection of more than 200 photographs and planning documents relating to the reconstructed Santa Barbara.

Stone Architecture in Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Conservancy published Stone Architecture in Santa Barbara, part of the “Images of America” series by Arcadia Publishing, in 2009. This small book holds a treasury of pictures and information about the stonework construction in the city’s homes and public buildings, bridges, walls, and other spaces, from the last third of the 19th century and well into the 20th. Many of the structures depicted in the book are still standing today.