Exterior Casita at 2825 Hidden Valley | Credit: Alexander Burns

Address: 2825 Hidden Valley Ln.
Status: On the market
Price: $2,295,000

I drove toward the open house at Hidden Valley Lane in Montecito on Sunday and chuckled to myself as I realized that it was the first time I had ever been on this road. I had, however, heard about the aptly named Hidden Valley Lane, because this surreptitious street is subtle yet storied and full of fanciful lore.

Ellen recently sold her house on Hidden Valley Lane, and the Rolling Stones are said to have had a retreat there back in their heyday. Several other noteworthy actors and musicians are reputed to have called this street home, but Hidden Valley Lane’s biggest claim to fame is of a culinary nature. The inventor of Hidden Valley ranch dressing ​— ​a Nebraska cowboy turned chef ​— ​is rumored to have had an actual ranch on Hidden Valley Lane in the 1970s.

Architectural rendering by Jeff Doubet, Santa Barbara Home Design

The property at 2825 Hidden Valley Lane is steeped in history of its own. It is said to have been a hippie enclave in the 1960s, with days-long celebrations and a free-flowing number of guests staying long-term or living on the site. One former owner promised to either give 500 of his friends $100 each, or 100 of his friends $500 each when he sold the home. Whether true or not, he did use proceeds from the sale for a bus he used to travel around the country building portable housing for the homeless. The bus now sits at an art compound near Bisbee, Arizona.

However accurate these tales of yesteryear might be, there’s no denying the character of this property in the present. Equally as interesting is the unique opportunity it offers potential buyers today. 

As I parked and walked around the property, I realized right away that there was a lot to take in. In fact, it took me a few minutes to absorb and understand everything that was going on.

The listing consists of two separate parcels being sold together. On the left-hand side of the road is a level, buildable parcel that currently holds a rustic house. Built in 1965, this abode was quite possibly the site of the historic hippie hijinks. Today, it is ready to be torn down and turned into a dream home for the future. Plans have already been created and permits have been obtained, so this flat, gated lot is ready. If the new owner chooses to continue with the proposed plans, they will have a two-story, three-bedroom, Spanish-style residence designed by local architectural firm Pujo & Associates. Landscaping plans are also included, and there’s plenty of room for a pool. 

Across the lane, the second lot contains a one-bedroom, 860-square-foot casita on one of the most romantic parcels I’ve ever seen. An old-world stone grotto sits on a knoll above a trickling creek, surrounded by gnarled oak trees and lush landscape, with stepping-stones down to a large patio and terraced yard. A charming wood playhouse sits perched above the creek, faced with 50-year-old wood reclaimed from an existing fence found on the property. A custom swing set and play structure in the front yard ensure that there’s opportunity for entertainment at every angle.

The casita itself is adorable. Built in 1965 but renovated in 2004, it has a newer feel but retains the solid charm of an older structure. The kitchen, living, and dining areas occupy the front half of the house in an open-floor-plan great room. White cabinets, granite countertops, and clean lines help the kitchen blend comfortably into the rest of the living space. Doors to the front and both side yards bring the sunshine in and maintain the indoor-outdoor flow. The back of the house contains a bedroom, bathroom, and laundry, with room to expand. 

The possibilities for this property are many. One could live in the casita while building their dream home, and then maintain both as an extended family compound, or a house-plus-guest-house situation. The lure of building from the ground up is strong, and this property offers the ability to do just that ​— ​while enjoying the grotto and the lush land above the creek before, during, and after that process. The next owners of this magical property can do just that and help write the stories of Hidden Valley Lane for generations to come.

2825 Hidden Valley Lane is currently for sale in Montecito, listed by Molly Haden and Randy Haden of Village Properties Realtors. Reach Molly at (805) 880-6540 or molly@villagesite.com. Reach Randy at (805) 880-6530 or randyhaden@gmail.com.


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