In 1993, Casa del Herrero became a nonprofit organization, thanks in part to Founding Trustee George Steedman Bass. George remains dedicated to the Casa and is proud of his family’s legacy in the community. Recently, George was kind enough to share some anecdotes about the Casa, memories of his grandparents, and the passion he will always have for Montecito’s only National Historic Landmark.
CDH: Why was it important for you to give Casa del Herrero to the community?
George: My grandfather, George Fox Steedman, was an amazing person. He had energy, vision, and a love of quality. He was innovative and a talented artist. I believe he was a genius. There are so many important aspects of the estate worth saving – the Spanish antique furniture, Spanish ceiling, and Moorish tiles. Also, the innovatively designed book tower, workshop with its amazing tools and exquisite equipment, and wine cellar. My grandfather took up silversmithing toward the end of his life, and the Casa is fortunate to have several pieces by his hand including bowls and large vases.
CDH: What was your biggest challenge during the process?
George: My mother died very quickly from cancer, but before she did, she set a clear vision for the future of the estate. My sister and I began the process of giving the Casa to the community, but it was very complex. It was challenging to get all of the family members on the same page, but we did, and today I am proud that we were able to create a nonprofit organization and that the estate has become a National Historic Landmark.
CDH: Can you share a few childhood memories of your time at the Casa?
George: I remember camping for one week in the small forest area in the south acreage with my brother, Tom. My grandfather had the staff set up beds with each leg in a small can of water so that the ants would not bother us while we slept. I can also recall my grandmother asking the driver, Clarence, to take Tom and me for rides in the silver-grey Buick with the convertible top down. We all enjoyed Fiesta, and I can still recollect the fire engines, music, and groups of horses. I loved to see the gentlemen and women mounted on antique silver saddles wearing their old Spanish finery. It was a wonderful parade.
CDH: What were your grandparents like?
George: I feel that my grandparents were very polite, and were always dressed in nice clothing. My grandfather wore a bow tie every day. I loved the Casa, but I had to be careful of my clothes, my manners, and my politeness toward other people. During the Great Depression, my grandfather would provide work for men on the estate, and my grandparents were both very generous. Obviously, when I was young, I didn’t know about this generosity. My grandparents were busy – my grandfather in his shop, and my grandmother with her flowers. They were very friendly people.
CDH: What is your favorite thing about the Casa?
George: I loved the personal elevator!