Firm: Harrison Design, 921 De la Vina Street, 899-3434, harrisondesign.com
Specialties: Luxury custom homes and specialty commercial projects
Award winner: Crocker Row #5, 2050 Garden Street
Since merging his private practice with Harrison Design in 2004, architect Anthony Spann has overseen the firm’s Santa Barbara office, working on the forefront of custom home-building and commercial design. One of Spann’s favorite projects unfolded on Santa Barbara’s historic Crocker Row on Garden Street, one of five private homes commissioned in the 1890s by William H. Crocker, son of railroad financier Charles Crocker.
Designed by architect Arthur Page Brown — best known for creating the Spanish Revival style of architecture — the 3,700-square-foot home, like the others, was built to accommodate wealthy vacationers, featuring ocean views, four upstairs bedrooms, and a ground-floor butler’s pantry, kitchen, and servants’ quarters. Over the decades, some of the home’s original character had been obscured by waterproofing and utility upgrades and was damaged by the 1925 earthquake. The client’s unwavering game plan sought to restore its true form while adding modern conveniences.
Without the benefit of the home’s original drawings — which were nowhere to be found — Spann started in on this “magical turn back of the clock,” he said, meticulously documenting existing details and working closely with general contractor Giffin & Crane, which “understood and completely embraced our client’s vision.”
“Every day we had to come up with solutions,” remembers Geoff Crane, whose Santa Barbara company celebrated 30 years in business in 2016. “And our solutions had to fit historical circumstances and constraints.” With Spann’s blueprints in hand, crews slowly disassembled, catalogued, and stored untouched features — including windows, doors, fireplace mantles, and an interior staircase and baluster — before replacing the 120-year-old boulder foundation with an up-to-code concrete footing. Stonemasons hid the visible perimeter of this new foundation with veneers cut from the original sandstone.
With the house now level and stabilized, modern hardwood flooring was installed, finished with creative treatments to re-create original sheen and texture. Distressed redwood serves as matching baseboard and crown molding, and in the kitchen, there’s all-new period cabinetry by Santa Barbara’s Starbuck Minikin. In the upper stairwell, they opened up a library space that showcases the home’s quatrefoil window. Also upstairs, they reduced the number of bedrooms and added a master bath, all within the building’s original footprint. At the same time, they upgraded living spaces with air conditioning, radiant flooring, and other modern conveniences, hiding contemporary systems behind original moldings, in closets, and under the house.
Santa Barbara officials closely followed the architectural and building process, some of which was integrated into the city’s development standards. In 2015, the project won the city’s Edwards/Plunkett Award for Historic Preservation. In December, the project earned Spann the Architectural Heritage award by the Santa Barbara chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Spann and Harrison Design also recently completed a historic preservation project at the Fielding Graduate University home at 2112 Santa Barbara Street, which received landmark designation.
What’s next? The firm is currently working on restoration projects in Montecito, Hope Ranch, and, with Giffin & Crane, on the Riviera. “We’re happy to be working with Giffin & Crane again,” Spann said. “We value their participation on our projects.”