Noble, stately, palatial. Indeed, Constantia, in the heart of Montecito, is all of these. But, says Ladd Jackson of Hilton & Hyland Real Estate—co-listing the property with Village Properties Realtors, affiliates of Christie’s International Real Estate—if one word were to sum up this sweeping estate, it is “romantic.” One glimpse of this home, a reminder of more sedate, elegant times, and it is impossible to disagree.
A masterpiece of Cape Dutch style, Constantia—named after South Africa’s Cape Town wine region—was designed in 1930 by Ambrose Cramer as a summer house for his father-in-law, Arthur Meeker. With whitewashed walls, a pitched roof, rounded ornate gables, and wide half-shuttered windows, it bears all the typical characteristics of its design heritage, one that makes it unique in an area famed for its Mediterranean and modern styles.
Cramer, a native of Chicago who spent most of his life in Santa Barbara, could not have chosen a better location for the property, enviably positioned on a narrow ridge between the Pacific Ocean and Montecito Peak—an area that today is home to some of California’s most sought-after real estate.
“Wherever you sit, you are captivated by views of the ocean on one side and of the mountains on the other.”
Set behind soaring decorative gates on 3.5 acres, Constantia, with its tree-lined driveways, manicured lawns, fountains, and reflection pond, has all the majesty of a grand European estate, albeit one with Oprah Winfrey as a neighbor. Completely sheltered, it is a wonderful family home with matching children’s playhouse, but was also built for entertaining, its lavish grounds perfect for largescale al fresco parties and charity events.
The property’s historical exterior is complemented by its show-stopping 10,000-square-foot interior, restored and renovated by the present owner. A neutral palette throughout provides a fresh backdrop. “This is most evident in the kitchen, one of many standout features of the house,” says Jackson. “Its cathedral-high ceilings and wood beams partner with the latest, sleekest designs—it is stunning.” As is the main living room, accessed through double doors from the foyer and flooded with light from adjoining terraces. “Wherever you sit, you are captivated by views of the ocean on one side and of the mountains on the other.”
Look-at-me spectacular but oh-so-private; classic yet thoroughly modern; and situated in the most august of settings, Constantia, it would seem, has the lot. Just, in fact, as a true romance should.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TREVOR TONDRO