Lutah Maria Riggs (1896-1984): Mid-century Montecito


Lutah Maria Riggs was born in Ohio in 1896, and studied architecture at UC Berkeley. She worked as chief draftswoman in the architecture office of George Washington Smith from 1921 until Smiths' death in 1930. The firm was responsible for many of the Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture in the Santa Barbara area. From 1931 until 1981, Riggs worked both in partnership with other architects and alone on mostly residential projects.
While the ADC archive contains materials from the whole of Riggs' career, this small online collection focuses on her work in the middle of the 20th century, in Montecito. These are the projects that show how Riggs moved away from the traditional to more modern after WWII, but still retained classic lines and proportions. This mirrored Montecito itself, which was known for traditional large estates, but by mid-century, smaller lots and homes were springing up in very modern forms.


Lutah Maria Riggs, architect


Lutah Maria Riggs papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara.


circa 1946-circa 1970


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Collection Items

Lutah Maria Riggs: Erving house (Montecito, Calif.)
With the Erving house in Montecito, the goal was to provide privacy for the owner and a view up towards the mountains and down to the ocean. Riggs achieved this by designing a large triangular wall of glass facing north (towards the mountains) and a…

Lutah Maria Riggs: Ludington house (Montecito, Calif.)
This house, built for art collector Wright Ludington, was his second house in Montecito. For this house, Ludington wanted to showcase his art collection and commissioned Riggs to create a house around his art and sculpture.

Lutah Maria Riggs: Vedanta Temple (Montecito, Calif.)
Riggs designed the main temple building, as well as the gate house, shrine room, carport, and pavilion on the Vedanta grounds. Riggs studied the architectural forms of China, Japan, and India before building the temple, and applied classic forms to…

Lutah Maria Riggs: San Ysidro Ranch cottages (Montecito, Calif.)
Lutah Maria Riggs' work at the San Ysidro Ranch in the early 1950s is indicative of her work in Montecito at that time. She utilized the mid-century vernacular for her additions and alterations to the cottages, restaurant, and on-site manager's…

Lutah Maria Riggs: Kiler house (Montecito, Calif.)
The house for Leslie Kiler and family overlooks the Santa Ynez mountain range, which rises from the oak-covered hills of Montecito. With simple, clean lines, the house is clad in redwood and features a 10 foot ceiling in the living room, which lines…

Lutah Maria Riggs: Erdman house (Montecito, Calif.)
The Erdman estate of approximately 3 acres, is located in the Birnam Woods area of Montecito and features views of the mountains. The long driveway leads to a large motor court; a separate outdoor area includes a large pool and garden. The low, flat…
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