Santa Barbara’s Most Expensive Home Is an $85 Million Hilltop Estate
Santa Barbara, California, isn’t just one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. It’s one of the most expensive places to live in the entire world.
According to data from the 2018 Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability report as analyzed by Business Insider, Santa Barbara tied Los Angeles for being the seventh least affordable city to live in.
So what does the most expensive home in one of the world’s most outrageously expensive cities look like, anyway?
It’s called Rancho San Carlos, an $85 million grand estate with hundreds of verdant acres to roam and thousands of opulent square feet to live within. And some really cool places to play.
The Main Home Is Huge
While there are numerous buildings on this property — and the 237-acres of land will certainly perk a buyer’s interest — the main residence is the major attraction.
The home is a 1931 Colonial with 29,483-square feet. It was custom built by Reginald Johnson, a notable architect who built many residential and commercial homes around California and Santa Barbara.
Location, Location, Location
Set on a hilltop, the house is 17 miles from downtown Santa Barbara, and a little more than 90 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Where Did it Come From?
Charles H. Jackson and Marcia Ann Gavit were the home’s former owners and builders.
Jackson, who was the grandnephew of President Chester A. Arthur, was an investor, rancher and polo player. Gavit was the granddaughter of Anthony N. Brady, a wildly successful businessman from Albany, New York; Gavit inherited his $14 million fortune when Brady died in 1913. She was eight years old.
They’re Long-Time Owners
Jackson and Gavit married in 1926 and had the property developed around 1929, with the main home being completed in 1931. The home has stayed within the Jackson family for the last 90 years.
There’s a Tiny Village of Cottages
Also located on the acres are 10 residential cottages, three of which were designed by Johnson. Additionally, there’s also an office building on the center of the property, also designed by the architect.
The cottages would be an excellent place to home guests, but more likely, you’ll need them to house employees.
It’s Built Around a Courtyard
The home is situated on “two natural terraces” and wraps around a central courtyard, with the master and family bedroom wings placed on the upper levels and the formal living rooms below.
The courtyard boasts beautiful shrubs, plants and trees, while classic stone steps framed by green ironwork railings lead up to the upper levels.
It Has a Speakeasy
Break out the whiskey, boys, but don’t let the law see you doing so.
Since this home was built during the Prohibition era, the architect included a secret place to drink in the mansion’s sprawling plans. A secret hallway connecting the library and the living room has its own secret door; when opened, it reveals a staircase descending into “an authentic English Whisky pub complete with wooden casks, a long oak bar, stone fireplace, plus an ample seating area,” according to the listing’s website.
Ample is an understatement. This pub is big enough to throw quite a large shindig.
Drunken Badminton, Anyone?
When you’ve had a few beers, take another flight of stairs underground. You’ll find a full-sized badminton court with an upstairs viewing perch.
Walls From Britain
It really does seem like you’ve stepped back in time 90 years in many parts of this home, especially in the living, dining and library areas.
The wood-paneled walls are not only incredibly impressive, they come with their own story. Back in the 1920s, the owners bought a manor overseas, in Britain. At one point or another they decided they wanted to bring that home’s walls to the States, so they dissembled them, shipped them back home, and reassembled them here.
The Library Is Brilliant
Speaking of the library, it’s absolutely luxurious, and something straight out of a movie. There’s a roaring fireplace, custom bookshelves and beautiful moldings throughout.
Plus, the home apparently comes with the previous owner’s “personal collection of books, many of which are first editions.”
There’s a Very Private Office
Above the master suite is perhaps the most secluded area of the home — a tower office accessible only via an exterior staircase from the suite itself.
It’s a Dream for Equestrians
The former owner loved to play polo — one room is stuffed with his trophies — and he also loved horses. The property features a 10-stall round barn an 11-stall stucco-and-wood barn.
There’s also a massive, 11,250-square-foot covered riding arena.
There’s Awesome Wallpaper
While the wood walls from Britain are awesome, equally cool is this home’s wallpaper. The card room, located at the entrance to the dining room, is covered in silver foil art-deco wallpaper depicting people riding horses and enjoying themselves in a peaceful nature setting.
There are also several wall-length, hand-painted murals lining a long gallery.
Vintage Kitchens, Part One
The home has two enormous kitchens that were “state of the art in the 1930s” and don’t appear to have been updated.
Normally, an 80-year-old kitchen would be a deal breaker for most people, but these kitchens are amazing. The prep kitchen has an enormous stove and the walls are colored with that beautiful vintage green so popular during that era.
Vintage Kitchens, Part Two
The main kitchen provides tons of space via long stretches of stainless steel countertops and dozens of drawers, shelves and cabinets.
There Are Many, Many Rooms
The nearly 30,000-square-foot mansion has 30 rooms, 12 bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms and three powder rooms. And, remember, that’s not even counting the 10 cottages and office building on site.
And There Are Lots of Taxes
According to the County of Santa Barbara’s tax collector, the three secured parcels of land have annual taxes of $8,204, $53,188 and $17,224.
That comes to a total of $78,636 in property tax each year.
Thousands of Fruit-Bearing Trees
Of the 237 acres of land, nearly half of those acres are for fruit-bearing trees. The home has 100 acres of orchards: 60 acres for lemons, 30 acres for avocados, five acres for oranges and five acres for limes.
It might not be enough for a full meal, but you might be able to offset a tiny bit of those taxes from selling those fruits of your $85 million investment at the farmer’s market.
It’s on Sale
The mansion first appeared on the market in 2014, and it had a much bigger asking price: $125 million.
For context, the most expensive home ever sold in the United States was a $147 million mansion in the East Hamptons, sold in 2013. Currently the most expensive home on the market is priced at an absurd $500 million, while the second most expensive is listed at $250 million).
And it’s a tad less expensive than Beyoncé and Jay Z’s $88 million mansion in Bel Air.