BEHIND THE WALLS AND INSIDE LAS TAPIAS

For this year’s design showcase house, CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation) selected a 1922 George Washington Smith creation in the Andalusian style named Las Tapias, which means “behind the garden walls.” In its celebration of more than 20 years of showcasing homes and gardens, the child abuse prevention organization is again giving tours to let curious eyes see just exactly what is hiding behind those garden walls.

Instead of having many designers each doing an area, this year the design team of Neil Korpinen and Rick Erickson did the whole house, except for the kitchen. “Our design for Las Tapias is modern-day Spanish, not Spanish Spanish,” Korpinen says. They worked closely with owners Errol Jahnke and Marilynn Jorgensen, who say they fell in love with the house and bought it two years ago. “We feel more and more like stewards of this property – even though we pay the mortgage,” Jorgensen says. Since this designated landmark home is located on a corner at 232 East Los Olivos street, it’s very visible to the public. There’s even a kind of fairy tale ending for this Design Showcase project: Marilynn and Errol plan to be married in the garden this fall.

Gillian Amery from The Kitchen Company created a dream kitchen that’s in keeping with the era of the house. The cabinets are new but reminded me of the kind in grandmother’s kitchen. Giffin & Crane was the general contractor. California Closets’s Cherilyn Milton designed the closets, her fifth time doing a CALM showcase house. What was once a garage was turned into a study some years ago. Nancy Drew would be in her element, because to enter there is a secret door hidden behind a bookcase. In place of books now there is also the ultimate home theater system. The Hi Fi Club – owned by Hans Betzholtz and wife, Elaine LeVasseur – and their team installed the latest for a media room, and they’ll even show you how to use it. Jahnke also has an old fashioned turntable for his 250 vinyl records. And for the special garden behind the walls Bob Cunningham, Derrik Eichelberger and Carol Puck Erickson from Arcadia Studio did their magic. “We paid homage to history,” Eichelberger says. “The presence of those who tended Las Tapias before us is very important.” Thierry Fraye’s Paysage, Inc., did the garden installation.

The original architect, George Washington Smith (he shared the U.S. president’s birthday, hence his name), built Las Tapias in 1922 as a part-time residence for Brooks Frothingham, who went to Harvard’s architecture school with Smith and was tired of cold winters. Smith and his wife, Mary, had come to Santa Barbara in 1917 so he could be an artist and he built their home on Middle Road. It’s still there but as he said, “I soon found that people were not really as eager to buy my paintings, as they were to have a white-washed house like mine.” Smith’s career lasted 11 years until he died of a heart attack in 1930 at age 54. Among the 222 projects his firm handled was the News-Press building, Lobero Theatre and Casa del Herrero in Montecito.

Showcase co-chairs Susan Day Hosea and Meredith Scott saw to it that those at the gala got to step back in time. George Washington Smith could have been in the garden, which was strung with white lanterns overhead and had tables laden with tapas, which guests enjoyed while listening to guitars and watching flamenco dancers.

“If you have the privilege of becoming the custodian of a piece of history, listen to what the house is saying,” Milton, of California Closets, says. “It will tell you what to do.”

Las Tapias is open for visits until October 1. Advance tickets are $25, available at the Arlington Theatre box office, 963-4408, or at the door for $30.

Charity Regatta

There’s something magical about boats and water. That’s why people want to own them instead of leasing, which would be much easier. That magic was all around as we arrived at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club (SBYC) for a charity regatta the club hosted to benefit Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of Santa Barbara (VNHC).

The day began with “The Dixie Daddies” jamming away on the sunny deck during the sponsors’ brunch. Among the many sponsors were Countrywide Financial Corporation, The Mozilo Family Foundation, Mid-State Bank & Trust and Merrill Lynch. Dr. Laura Schlessinger was not only a major sponsor, but she raced her yacht as well.

Attendees could watch on board one of the powerboats or sailboats competing or go on board one of several spectator yachts. There was a powerboat event and all day free admission to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. “The Henderson Brothers” band was there along with “Ras Danny” reggae band. The day ended with a barbeque, race awards and a raffle.

Staff commodore and regatta chair Dennis Friederich and his steering committee staged the entire affair, the second annual regatta for the Yacht Club, which has been around since 1872 making many community-wide contributions.

Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care benefits more than 5,000 residents every year, according to President of the board Eileen Bunning. Executive Director Pat Snyder says the organization also operates Serenity House, “a six-bed hospice residential facility.” With the money they get from galas such as the charity regatta, Visiting Nurse is planning to expand its hospice to have 18 beds.

New Faces, Same Place

It was time to welcome in the new “crop!” Every year the Lobero Theatre Associates gives a luncheon to say “hello” to its newest members. This year, the Lobero patio was the lovely venue – a fitting one since the associates are the ones who raised the money and renovated the once unsightly area. Now there’s a tile fountain and plantings surrounded by a white stucco wall. This day, co-chairs Jane Litchfield and Maribel Jarchow had the patio filled with umbrella tables covered in bright orange tablecloths and centered with vases of roses to match.

President Lily Marx welcomed the group. Litchfield is also membership chair, a position that allowed her to roam around passing out white roses to new active members Jasmine Batis, Susan Biddlecome, Kate Gura, Candy Hedrick, Joanie Myers and Caroline Thompson. Also presented were new mini members (who contribute dues but don’t attend all the meetings): Barbara Anderson, Rikki Emory, Georgette Topakas-Hicks, Betsy Lewis, Barbara Mullaney, Laura Taron and Eileen Mielko.

President of the Lobero Board George Burtness addressed the gathering along with Executive Director David Asbell, who told us, “The upcoming season will have more shows than ever before and they are usually sold out.”

Beach Party Brunch

Many friends gathered for brunch at Judy and Brian Robertson’s Pacific Coast Highway beach house to wish Brian a happy 65th birthday. Judy and Brian own Robertson Travel and have been generous for many years in donating trips to be auctioned off at various charities in Montecito.

At the party, Brian announced some good news: he was just named for the fifth time one of the top 100 travel agents in the United States by Condé Nast. On the side, the Robertsons also do a little matchmaking. Judy introduced me to my husband, Don, back in 2000. When he cancelled a trip with their agency because I couldn’t go, Brian ordered, “No more matchmaking!”

Some birthday partygoers soaking up the sun on the deck and the waves on the beach were Marsha and Wes St. Clair, Carol and Paul Scott, Sunny and Ray Thomas, Jim and Jeney McCoy, Alma Byrnes, Victoria and Carter Hines, Marsha and Jamie Constance, Mary Dell Pritzlaff and Lee Luria and Tommie Spear (whose book, “A Star To Steer Her By,” just came out) with Mike Finnell.