Archive » March 15, 2007
Eye on Santa Barbara
By John Watson
The News-Press Building
George Washington Smith built his reputation while working on his high-end residential work, much of it located in Montecito. But as with most architects, the high-end residential work lead to larger projects, many of them in the commercial realm. Of these public buildings, the best known include the Lobero Theatre, the Chapel at the Santa Barbara Cemetery (where he, his wife, and his dutiful associate, Lutah Maria Riggs, are interred), the Meridian Studios, and of course, the Santa Barbara News-Press building, shown here. Smith’s work on the News-Press (1924) predated the earthquake, and along with the City Hall and El Paseo (both also predated the earthquake) gave guidance to the rebuilding of De La Guerra Plaza, and by extension, to the rest of downtown.
Smith’s original design was a two-story, classically organized building with the front door placed right on the centerline with De La Guerra Plaza. He developed a stylish building using only simply placed openings with his typical high quality use of decorative moldings and ironwork. In 1951, Edwards and Wade added the tower in the northeast corner of the building. While maintaining Smith’s original style, Edwards and Wade’s addition altered the building from being a quiet, yet impressive statement to one that has flair and demands attention and respect.
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