Water Is Key
Photography by Berge Aran
AUSTIN VAL VERDE: A Montecito Masterpiece
144 pages
8 3/4" x 12"
ISBN: 1-890449-39-3
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Exclusive Montecito, California, is home to some of America’s most spectacular private residences, new and historic. Perhaps the one met with the most amazement is Val Verde, the house built in 1915 on a breathtaking seventeen-and-one-half-acre coastal plot by architect Bertram Goodhue, the American designer renowned as the supervisory architect of the Panama-California International Exposition of 1915 in San Diego. Its celebrated and extensive gardens are the masterpiece of Lockwood de Forest Jr. (1896-1949), one of the most important landscape architects to have worked in Southern California. Besides its status as the most preserved of the great early twentieth-century Southern California estate properties, Val Verde also bears the distinction of being the earliest American free-standing single-family house in the Spanish Colonial Revival style — a building style that would become enormously popular across the United States in the wake of Val Verde’s completion, and one that remains popular to this day.

In the first book to reveal the full extent and richness of Val Verde’s architecture, interiors, and gardens, the reader is treated to the never-before-published color photographs of the house and its gardens by the late Berge Aran, a former UCLA professor of architecture and leading expert on Val Verde. Aran spent years visiting and carefully documenting Val Verde, and through his images the enchanting spirit of this American architectural icon succinctly captured here, affording the reader the rare opportunity of exploring this wonderful place, inside and out.


Berge Aran received a degree in architecture and a Ph.D. in the history of architecture from Istanbul Technical University and later became an assistant professor at that institution. From early in his career he was a serious photographer and documented historical and archeological sites throughout Turkey. The Getty Research Institute has indexed many of these photographs. In 1973 he became a lecturer in architectural history and curator of the audiovisual collection at the University of California, Los Angeles. His photography of architecture in Mexico and Southern California was extensive. In 1997 he began a three-year project, a color photographic essay on Austin Val Verde, which resulted in an almost unprecedented documentation of a specific site. He died in 2000.