In May and June of 1923, George Fox Steedman took a trip to Spain as part of the planning process for the design and decoration of Casa del Herrero. Traveling with Louis La Beaume, an architect friend from St. Louis, he visited Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, and Lisbon before heading to Andalusia where he stayed in Seville and Granada. Along the way, Steedman purchased furniture, decorative arts, and architectural fragments for the Casa.
Steedman detailed the trip in notebooks, writing down comments and making sketches of interesting furniture and architectural details. He also took more than 3,000 photographs. Antiquarians Arthur Byne and Mildred Stapley served as guides and counselors for Steedman’s purchases, which were interspersed with visits to significant landmarks and private collections.
While in Toledo, Steedman visited Casa y Museo de El Greco. He sketched several details including the entry steps, which would later become the prototype for the stairs leading to the Spanish patio from the Casa living room.
In Seville, Steedman acquired several of the most prominently displayed items in the Casa including the Medejar seventeenth-century doors and frame for the second floor hall and the sixteenth-century escutcheon over the living room fireplace.
Visiting Granada, Steedman became enchanted with the gardens of the Generalife, a nearby summer palace. He sketched one of the arcaded walls, which would later become the prototype for the enclosed Spanish patio at the Casa.
Traveling to Barcelona after Andalusia, Steedman purchased the Martyrdom of St. Lorenzo, quite a significant piece, now hanging in the Casa dining room.
With the conclusion of the trip, Steedman returned to America while Arthur Byne continued to make purchases on Steedman’s behalf also orchestrating the shipment of more than 87 cases to Santa Barbara.
Today, Steedman’s recollections of the buying trip to Spain remain alive in the pages of the notebooks he left behind.