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Spanish Castle Hidden Downtown

Spanish-Style Retreat Hidden in Middle of Town

Address: 331 E. Canon | Perdido Street | Status: On the market | Price: $1,700,000 | Credit: Scott Gibson

Address: 331 E. Canon Perdido Street
Status: On the market
Price: $1,700,000

Built in 1983 but with a Pueblo Viejo feel, the house for sale at 331 East Canon Perdido Street may be both the most unique and most quintessentially Santa Barbaran home I’ve ever seen. With a spiral staircase in the back, a private rooftop patio up top, and a jaw-dropping solarium in the middle, this home has hints of both the courthouse and the mission and sits like a castle hidden in the center of downtown. 

Walking or driving by, you can’t see much from the street. Two inconspicuous garage doors sport a Saltillo tile driveway unfurled on the ground before them like a period-perfect red-carpet welcome. 

Behind a discreet wrought-iron front gate, a staircase leads up to double front doors. Pink roses planted alongside them reach for the blue sky overhead, adding to the fairy-tale feel of entering a castle. 

Inside, a formal foyer gives visitors a moment to pause and choose which direction to explore. On the left is a fully contained bedroom suite with a den, an inner fountain, and a street view balcony. However, one glimpse to the right, through the living room to the magnificent solarium beyond, was enough to make the decision for me. I had to see the solarium.

The living room has a huge fireplace on one wall and is open to the adjoining family room. Thick, white stucco walls, Saltillo tile floors, and wooden beams on the family room ceiling would make these two rooms showstoppers in any other home. But a set of four-paneled French doors topped by an eight-foot arched window shows off the solarium and make it impossible to ignore.

The solarium is breathtaking. It combines the feel of a central courtyard with an outdoor living room. A glass ceiling high overhead means the sun streams through in the daytime and the stars shine in at night. A brick floor enhances the garden atmosphere, and a towering fiddle-leaf fig tree — with real figs — continues the vibe. 

A curving stairway leads to the master suite above, displaying decorative tilework to rival any of Santa Barbara’s often-photographed staircases. A large, tiled fountain pleases the ears as well as the eyes, and a wide pass through window is open to the kitchen. 

The remodeled kitchen has a marble-topped island and a walk-in pantry, and it is styled to be consistent with the rest of the house. An adjacent formal dining room is open to both the kitchen and solarium but can be closed off as a cozy alternative. 

Outside the solarium, a brick patio is framed in bougainvillea, palms, and birds of paradise. A raised tile fountain, capped by three domed spires in Moorish style, is the centerpiece of this private outdoor garden. A covered area in one corner is sure to be the preferred dining spot almost all year round. 

I walked up the grand tiled staircase to tour the master suite, but I couldn’t resist pausing on the landing to admire the solarium view. Reminiscent of the second story in historic El Paseo restaurant, this view just begs for a party to be underway down below. 

The ambience continues in the master bedroom itself, perched high above the rest of the house. French doors provide a view, and a tiled fireplace in one corner ensures you’ll remain snug in your hideaway on rare cool evenings. 

Just when I thought I’d seen more magic than one house should be allowed, I spotted a spiral staircase leading even further upward. Hand-painted bird tiles on the turret walls flew upward in random patterns as I ascended. The stairs opened up to an unexpectedly large rooftop patio, with a treetop view over downtown Santa Barbara to the ocean and the mountains as an ever-changing yet ever-constant backdrop. 

A wooden pergola covers part of this lofty space, and crinoline edging on the parapet walls enhances the feeling of being high in a castle tower.

There’s much more detail in this home that I could’ve chronicled. Instead, I chose to spend my remaining time in this magical abode sitting in the solarium, listening to the fountains, watching a hummingbird on the patio, and imagining how it would feel to call this hidden castle home.


331 East Canon Perdido Street is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Joel Butera of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Reach Joel at (805) 448-4831 or joel.butera@gmail.com.

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