Santa Barbara real estate is hot right now, especially for properties with lots of land or historic pedigrees. Montecito’s so-called Erdman House has both — it was designed in 1959 by Lutah Maria Riggs, the first licensed female architect in Santa Barbara and California’s first woman named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects — and sits on four eucalyptus and pine tree-studded acres. And, of course, it’s located in the seaside enclave home to everyone from Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres to Katy Perry and Ariana Grande, from Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
A sublimely preserved midcentury modern, the Erdman House hit the market last month and sold in just 17 days — for $9.5 million, a whipping $2 million more than the initial ask. Records indicate the all-cash buyer is Susan Rasinski McCaw, the Seattle-based former U.S. Ambassador to Austria and the ex-wife of telecom billionaire Craig McCaw.
The house hadn’t been on the market in a full 50 years, and the previous owners clearly preserved every inch of original midcentury ethos. The 8,700-square-foot structure has high ceilings and original Douglas Fir hardwood floors throughout, plus walls of glass that soak up views of the leafy surroundings. The home’s kitchen, a veritable 1959 time capsule, was clearly designed to value function over form, though it couldn’t resist just a bit of playfulness, as the teal-colored countertops attest.
Sequestered at the very end of a private road, directly adjacent to the prestigious Valley Club of Montecito, the knolltop property has abundant parking — there is garaging for four cars and four additional carport spaces, plus an ample motorcourt — and a large courtyard ringed by mature olive trees, where there’s an elegant rectangular swimming pool. The main house offers three bedrooms and a total of five full bathrooms, while the detached poolhouse sports an additional bedroom and bathroom.
McCaw, a philanthropist and former investment banker who sits on the board of Lionsgate and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, served as the U.S. Ambassador to Austria from 2005 to 2007. She split from Craig McCaw last year and has since expanded her real estate holdings — three months ago, she paid $6 million for a Palm Beach mansion. In 2019, the McCaws sold their former Montecito getaway for $12.2 million to ex-media titan Gary Newman, former co-CEO of the Fox Television Group.