Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara

The Acheson House

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The History of the Acheson House

The Acheson House is named after James J. Acheson for whom it was designed and built in 1904. The stately two-story home sits at the corner of Victoria and Garden Streets, anchoring and “announcing” the Historic Bungalow District. The house is designed in a Victorian Italianate style – a highly formalized tall and simple wood framed structure is supplemented by a hip roof, clad with wood siding and restrained detailing. The covered porches are supported by classical wood columns and feature simple wood railings. The windows are arranged in a regular and symmetrical pattern, typical of the style, and feature beautiful leaded glass detail.

The Acheson House is named after James J. Acheson for whom it was designed and built in 1904. The stately two-story home sits at the corner of Victoria and Garden Streets, anchoring and “announcing” the Historic Bungalow District. The house is designed in a Victorian Italianate style – a highly formalized tall and simple wood framed structure is supplemented by a hip roof, clad with wood siding and restrained detailing. The covered porches are supported by classical wood columns and feature simple wood railings. The windows are arranged in a regular and symmetrical pattern, typical of the style, and feature beautiful leaded glass detail.

The Carriage Garage and the “Play House” additionally comprise the original property. The house is recognized as a Structure of Merit.

Little is known about the Acheson family or how architect, Pierre Claeyssens, eventually acquired the property. Claeyssens, a highly esteemed architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), intended to gift the property to the Santa Barbara Chapter of the AIA. In 1983, with assistance from other members of the AIA, the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara (AFSB) was established as a non-profit. The interior of the Acheson House was reworked to function as offices for the AFSB. Additionally, the AIASB, The Junior League, and The Sustainability Project came to share the interior space.

In 2012, the Acheson House received long needed restoration work. Along with repairs, a historical color scheme was designed and approved by the Historic Landmarks Commission, replacing the former white scheme on the exterior of all the buildings. The AFSB now focuses efforts on necessary community support needed for the next phases of restoration for the site and landscape.

Hosting activities and programs that educate about the importance of architectural excellence in the built environment remain the primary goal of the AFSB. Educational programs the AFSB provides for the Santa Barbara community include:  Kids Draw Architecture, the High School Design Competition, Built Environment Education Program (BEEP), Sabado & Domingo Historic Walking Tours, Scholarships & Scholarship Reception, AFSB Lectures, and AFSB Art Gallery Shows.

Come visit and participate in learning about and promoting great design and architecture in Santa Barbara!