Austin Val Verde: Impressions of a Montecito Masterpiece


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 by architect Bertram Goodhue. Val Verde also bears the distinction of being the earliest American free-standing single-family house in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Ann Mitchell’s haunting studies of Val Verde reveal its original grandeur layered with the now-shabby elegance of later owners. From the overgrown Italian landscaping to draped and furnished boudoirs her evocative images afford the reader the rare opportunity of exploring the estate as if the owners had just left.

Ann Mitchell

Ann Mitchell is a photographer known for using the medium in an expressive and poetic manner. After completing a BFA in Photography from Art Center College of Design, she worked as an award-winning advertising and editorial photographer for over a decade. She then returned to school to complete a MFA in Art from Claremont Graduate University. While there, in addition to producing her own work, she also curated several large art projects and has continued that commitment to community through the organizing of photo-related events. Shortly after graduation she joined the Art & Photography Department (now Visual and Media Arts) at Long Beach City College, where she has served as Chair and now as Digital Media Program Coordinator. Her photographs have been included in a large number of solo and group exhibitions in the United States and internationally and have been featured in numerous publications.


Ann Mitchell’s extraordinary and poetic portraits of the Val Verde estate as it was transformed into Austin Val Verde evoke the history and artistic achievements of this famous Southern California architectural monument and gardens. These are achievements that began with Bertram Goodhue’s innovative design for the house and initial landscaping, continued with Wright Ludington and Lockwood de Forest’s transformation of the estate into an Italian villa, and culminated as Dr. and Mrs. Warren R. Austin blended their own personalities into Val Verde.

Mitchell’s work at Austin Val Verde was a labor of love. She made more than twenty visits to the estate, capturing the grounds and interior spaces at different times of the year and hours of the day in ways that no photographer had ever done before. The results are the extraordinary collection of more than 80 images contained in this book.

The Austin Val Verde Foundation is one of the few preserved great early 20th Century Southern California estates. It is a pivotal work in the career of the famous 20th century American architect Bertram Goodhue. Its celebrated and extensive gardens are the masterpiece of Lockwood de Forest, Jr., one of the most important landscape architects in Southern California during the last one hundred years. For three decades, Austin Val Verde housed one of the finest private collections of Greek and Roman sculpture, and for many years a number of celebrities from the worlds of film, stage, music, literature, and art visited or stayed at the estate. The purpose of the Foundation is preservation, maintenance, and display of Austin Val Verde, a unique botanical, architectural and artistic estate, for education, scientific, charitable and historic purposes in perpetuity. The Foundation especially aims to benefit children and students by promoting venues and cultural exchanges for local, national and international communities.

Additional information

Weight 0.5 lbs
Dimensions 56 × 23 × 27 in

Hardcover, 144 pages



Prints of the Photographs

Limited editions of the photographs are available from the artist. For further information, please refer to


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