One of our most recent Montecito real estate listings on Ashley Road has an incredible history. We love working with properties that have an enticing past and truly believe one of the best things about Montecito is its rich history– something unique to come by in California.
Not surprisingly, we weren’t the first ones to recognize our area’s paradisial beauty!
The original Oglivy house
The original Oglivy house was built in the early 1900s by Scottish immigrant Arthur T. Oglivy as a farmhouse surrounded by lemon groves. Famous architect J.L Curletti designed the distinctive craftsman style home. Arthur T., wife Jessie Alexander, and their only son, Arthur Edward, lived in the barn while they constructed the shingled, two-story home.
The Oglivy family and the original Oglivy house in the early 1900s
Arthur T. was a popular resident of Montecito, and the Oglivy house was known for its hospitality and casual social gatherings. The family regularly participated in community events and entertained visitors often. San Ysidro Ranch has records of Arthur T. taking advantage of its “low summer rates” in 1893– the famous resort’s first year in business.
Arthur T. and Arthur E. Oglivy and a photo of one of the property's wells
The property enjoyed a few wells, one of which produced enough water for the Oglivys to start a drinking water business called Oglivy Artesian Water Company. For almost 30 years until 1947, people would bring jars to the Oglivy well to quench their thirst.
Son Arthur E. attended Cold Spring School before heading off to Yale. After graduating, he returned to Montecito and began working at his uncle’s insurance firm, Oglivy-Hill insurance, which is still in practice today. In 1927, he hired architect George Washington Smith to build him a home on the south end of the property, now 650 Ashley Road. Like his father, Arthur E. became a well-loved local figure in Montecito.
Mrs. Oglivy died at age 90 in 1955, with Arthur E. following shortly after in 1960 at age 71. Their deaths marked the end of the Oglivy presence in Montecito.
The house circa 1952
In 1959, Donald and Ellen Armour of the Armour Meatpacking Empire bought the Oglivy house. According to neighborhood chatter, Donald’s penchant for mismanaging money forced the couple to abandon the home with all furniture in tact, vanishing forever.
The following year, Todd and Gail Campbell purchased the home, where they raised four children and several grandchildren. Recently, one of the Campbell children returned the home’s original brass doorbell cover, which is now back in its original place.
The Oglivy house circa 1976
Julia Emerson bought and restored the home in 1984. She worked hard to get the house back to its original state, re-painting walls white and stripping linoleum away to reveal the original Douglas Fir floors beneath. She updated the kitchen and carefully restored the original pantry. Julia hired landscape architect Nancy Goslee Powers (who designed the driveway around the Norfolk Island Pine that was planted when the home was built), and updated the home’s electricity and plumbing to match modern standards.
The Oglivy house circa 1991
In the spirit of the Oglivy family, Julia Emerson frequently hosted worldly guests at the home, including the Dalai Lama and a team of monks who meditated at the home for weeks to bless the property before his arrival. As a gift, one of the monks carved a Tibetan prayer into a piece of sandstone, which is now embedded within the front porch.
All of the home’s residents who came after the Emersons likewise became beloved members of the community, with the home carrying on its reputation as a lively social gathering spot; the home has traditionally hosted Easter egg hunts, intergenerational bocce tournaments, and summer concert series.
Residents have continued to restore the home over the years, with exquisite care to maintaining original details, while updating its features to the highest end of standards.
The home is truly a treasure trove of community joy nestled in the heart of Montecito.
The Oglivy home today: