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February 1, 2024

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Nestled along the picturesque Pacific coastline, Santa Barbara’s topography effortlessly blends natural beauty with architectural marvels. As a distinguished landscape architect, Lockwood de Forest III played a pivotal role in shaping the visual identity of Santa Barbara, infusing the region with his profound love for the California natural environment. From the sprawling estate of Casa de Herrero to the tranquil enclave of Hope Ranch, de Forest's influence remains embedded in the very fabric of this coastal haven.

A lush meadow at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden with orange California poppies and other flora n the foreground and mountains in the background.
Image by Greg Trainor courtesy of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The de Forest Legacy

The de Forest legacy started in Europe more than 300-years ago with Jessé de Forest. Born in 1576, he moved his family to the New World where it is believed that his vision and planning led to the settlement of New Amsterdam, now known as New York City. Future de Forest generations made their way to Santa Barbara, and although their roots took time to establish here, their influence left an indelible mark on our renowned terrain.

Fast-forward over two centuries, Lockwood de Forest Sr. emerged as a key figure in the family story. Born in 1896 in Greenwich Village, and spent summers on the family estate on Long Island, Lockwood Sr. gained prominence as a landscape painter, contributing significantly to the burgeoning Aesthetic Movement. Displaying comprehensive interest and talent in the arts and design, he became a partner in Associated Artists along with Louis Comfort Tiffany. He later moved with his family to Santa Barbara.

A couple stand on a cobblestone patio looking out to the beautiful landscape next to a dragon tree.
Image by Rachel Wakefield Photography courtesy of Casa del Herrero

Lockwood de Forest III

The legendary architect, known professionally as Lockwood de Forest Jr., was deeply influenced by his Californian childhood. Affectionately known as Lock, he attended the Thacher School in Ojai where he developed a lasting attachment to Western panorama. That attachment led him to study design and become a licensed professional.

Early in his career, Lock worked briefly in Ralph Stevens's office before establishing his own practice. His unique approach embraced native plants, challenging the prevalent trend of water-intensive Beaux-Arts landscapes.

In 1925, Lock married Elizabeth Kellam, marking the beginning of an influential partnership that extended beyond their personal lives. The same year, they launched The Santa Barbara Gardener, a publication that combined Elizabeth's plant knowledge and prose with Lockwood's insightful commentary on design.

Lock's innovative spirit and focus on residential properties positioned him as a master between Beaux-Arts aesthetics and modern design. His work, marked by formal geometries and bold effects achieved through plants, resonated beyond the sunny coast of Santa Barbara, reaching as far as the Bay Area and San Diego. Lock's impact even extended to the introduction of notable western native species to the East Coast, showcasing the family's commitment to horticulture and environmental stewardship.

Stone steps and a fountain on the grounds of Casa de Herrero, with the historic home framed with plants, trees and a blue sky.
Image by Matt Walla courtesy of Casa de Herrero

Lockwood de Forest's Contribution to Santa Barbara

De Forest's professional journey in Santa Barbara spanned nearly three decades. One of his most celebrated achievements is commonly acknowledged to be Casa de Herrero (House of the Blacksmith), which stands as one of the finest examples of Lock’s era in California. The garden features a blend of Moorish-inspired tiled fountains, sprawling citrus orchards, perennial borders, a commanding axial vista, and a dedicated cactus (or Arizona) garden. Enclosed by arcades and whitewashed stone walls, garden rooms of various scales create intimate spaces while stone pathways seamlessly connect different sections of the garden. Surrounded by eucalyptus intermixed with palm trees, the densely planted property is inward-focused. In recognition of its historical significance, Casa del Herrero earned the designation of National Historic Landmark in 2009.Top of FormBottom of Form

Another significant commission can be found on the grounds at Val Verde, a collaborative effort with Wright Ludington, who was not only his cousin but also his schoolmate and lifelong friend. Wright, known for his creativity and distinguished art collection, played a significant role in the creation of Val Verde, now Santa Barbara’s premier senior living community.

The paved road at the entrance to Hope Ranch in Santa Barbara, CA framed by palm trees, stone pillars, and a metal

Additionally, Lock contributed his expertise to the planning and development of Hope Ranch, an affluent Santa Barbara enclave comprising a sweeping flat mesa and gently rolling knolls interspersed with a stunning valley adorned by magnificent live oaks. The views from the home sites perched on the knolls are nothing short of spectacular, even today. To the landward side, the regal purple mountains of the Santa Ynez range are complemented by lush foothills and a fertile valley. On the seaward side, one can behold the Santa Barbara Channel, the Channel Islands, and the expansive Pacific Ocean, creating a visual spectacle that captivates the senses just as Lock planned.

The Enduring Impact

Beyond his individual projects, Lockwood de Forest's consulting relationships with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art further highlight the lasting impact of his expertise. His influence extended not only through physical settings but also through a dedication to sharing knowledge and encouraging a deeper appreciation for the intersection of art and nature.

Horticulture enthusiasts familiar with the work of Lockwood de Forest III or his wife, Elizabeth Kellam de Forest, may recognize their almost-prescient foresight into future trends. In an era when water-intensive gardens held sway, the de Forests championed the cause of drought-tolerant plants, sun-kissed lawns, and a deep appreciation for the native beauty gracing Santa Barbara's stunning mountainous backdrop. We owe immense gratitude for the remarkable contributions of Lockwood de Forest III and his family.

If you're contemplating a move within any of our upscale communities that offer breathtaking backdrops like those created by Lockwood de Forest III, please contact me at (805) 886-9378 or via email at I'm delighted to assist and happy to arrange a private tour for you, showcasing the listings featured on my comprehensive website, each distinguished by its own exceptional landscape architecture.

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“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch