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Europe may have its palaces, but the American version has an artistry all its own – found in the few grand estates preserved for time.

Conservation, however, comes with a cost. So with that in mind, the first “Champagne and Jazz Brunch” to benefit Casa del Herrero was held Sun., Aug.12 in the 11-acre Steedman Estate and Gardens.

Herrero, or House of the Blacksmith, was created by a team of architects, landscape designers and antiquarians under the direction of George Fox Steedman. Designed by George Washington Smith and completed in 1925, it is noted as one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in America.

“This is a hidden jewel in Montecito, and I came out to support it,” says Lorna Hardy. Many of the Steedman’s children and grandchildren still serve on the board and participate in preserving the legacy. The estate remains essentially unchanged and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2009. “I come to every event,” says jojo Baker, whose sister, Molly Baker, is the executive director. But she would come even without the family connection. “It’s just such a joy to be here.”

Attendees were handed parasols to shade them from the impending heat as they strolled the gardens – largely unchanged since that bygone era. Some sat to listen to the live music by Joan & Tonic or partook of the elegant brunch, complete with Champaign. The al fresco event was a recreation of sorts of the graceful-style affair George and Carrie Steedman might have reigned over in 1925.

“I’m absolutely excited to be involved with this historic gem,” says Susan Jackson. “It’s the American version of the castle,” and one which the community should step up to preserve.

The home, which still contains the original furnishings, antiques, artwork and personal items of the Steedman family was open for guests to tour. Proceeds from the event help maintain the estate and gardens, which are owned and operated by the non-profit Casa del Herrero Foundation.

Lynda Millner, a docent, likes to point out that George Steedman was a perfectionist to the extent that he purposefully had “mistakes” included in some of the tile work because doing so was in keeping with the religious influences of the period – a reminder that only God is perfect.

Guests enjoy hunting for the one tile placed upside down.

To keep things fun and exciting, every-other summer the foundation comes up with a uniquely different fundraiser, reports Julia McHugh, their publicist. On the odd years, foundation organizers host an art sale in the courtyard behind the home.

Tours of the Herrero house, gardens and workshop are available by reservation from mid-February through mid-November and in December. For reservations or information, call 565-5653 or visit