Old World Charm

Posted online: March 2016

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Edited by Jennifer Blaise Kramer

Husband-and-wife architects James Osborne Craig and Mary McLaughlin Craig played a pivotal role in the development of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in Santa Barbara in the 1920s. Many of their works are major examples of our city’s signature style, however their names are largely unknown. A recent exhibition at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum offered a vivid reminder of their contributions to the city’s transformation into a mecca of Spanish Colonial architecture. The exhibition was accompanied by a major monograph on the Craigs’ lives and work; Spanish Colonial Style: Santa Barbara and the Architecture of James Osborne Craig and Mary McLaughlin Craig was written by their granddaughter Pamela Skewes-Cox along with architectural historian Robert Sweeney and published by Rizzoli New York in association with the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. This collaboration delivered what the authors call “a long overdue spotlight on the rich career of these tremendously influential artists.” With unseen photography, renderings, and historical imagery, the book is their tribute to this largely untold episode in local architecture. Here, the authors share a few excerpts.

El Paseo“El Paseo, also designed by Osborne Craig, set the standard for Santa Barbara’s architectural rebirth in the 1920s and continues to be a reference today as the city cultivates Hispanic imagery.”








“In 1928, El Paseo opened and unveiled its addition with a two-day celebration with “Denishawn Dancers.”


3-15_Hoffmann_Dining_Rm“Osborne Craig left two buildings of such potency—even precocity, given his age—completed posthumously, that one suspects he would have given George Washington Smith ample competition if not for his premature death at age 33. One was Casa Santa Cruz, also known as the Hoffmann House, designed for Irene and Bernhard Hoffmann.” Casa Santa Cruz delivers much of what the authors call the hallmarks of Spanish Colonial style: whitewashed stucco and plaster walls, exposed wood-beamed ceilings, wrought iron detailing, and “deep, dramatic fireplaces that cast magical shadows.”



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