After just a week in their new Montecito home, Carolyn Williams and her husband Bob hosted their first out-of-town guests. Wanting to be good hosts, Carolyn asked her new next door neighbor what she might do to make the stay enjoyable. Without hesitating, the neighbor directed Carolyn to visit Casa del Herrero. Carolyn booked a tour, and was completely enchanted with the Casa on her visit. Now, five years later, Carolyn is a dedicated docent and volunteer. “I have an interest in history, and immediately found the Casa intriguing,” said Carolyn. “I became a volunteer docent because I wanted to share the Casa’s history with visitors while also finding a way to give back.”

Carolyn thrives on discovering meaningful ways to engage with her community, and is most often drawn to cultural organizations that fulfill her passion for understanding history and creative expression. Part of this stems from spending much of her professional career working as a middle school and high school language arts teacher where she loved communicating new ideas to students. “I have always enjoyed taking something I find exciting and translating it into knowledge I can pass on to others,” said Carolyn. “My background as an educator absolutely informs my passion for and interest in Casa del Herrero.”

And with Casa del Herrero, there is much to be passionate about. From being one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in America to the Moorish-style gardens to the extensive collection of fifteenth and sixteenth-century fine and decorative art objects, the Casa truly has something of interest for every visitor. “I continue to be intrigued by the fact that the house museum in many ways is essentially unchanged from the time of its original owners,” said Carolyn. “It is amazing to stand in the house and see all of the original furnishings or walk through the garden and see so much of the original intent still intact.”

Carolyn and her husband Bob (who has served on the Casa board for five years) have moved several times in their 48 years together, and are now happy to call Montecito home. For Carolyn, the Casa feels like an extension of this sentiment as she is so completely drawn to its mission and the creative inspiration she gets from being at the estate. “For me, the Casa is a place where I can use my skills as a teacher while keeping my passion for art and culture ignited,” said Carolyn. “There is so much to engage with from the George Washington Smith connection to the antiquities and medieval art objects to the original owners’ family history. All of this together just seemed like a good fit for me. Even after five years, I continue to find new details and new things to discover. It just gets better and better.”