Jack of All Trades

Early on in the cataloging project, I came across the Francis T. Underhill papers and instantly became fascinated. Francis T. Underhill had to have been a character. During his 66 years, from 1863-1929, he did SO MANY THINGS. Above are some images of material from the collection here at the ADC and below are some interesting facts about Underhill:

  1. Was a ninth generation descendant of Captain John Underhill who helped finance the Mayflower expedition.
  2. Founder of the first indoor horse show in America in 1883.
  3. By the age of 20 he had designed and built his own estate on Long Island, along with the gardens and furnishings.
  4. He established a sightseeing stage line that ran from Santa Barbara to the San Marcos Pass.
  5. Published a book, which came out in 1896, called Driving for Pleasure, dealing with horse equipment and riding.
  6. Two streets in Santa Barbara are named after two of his race horses. Uhlan Court after his male horse, and Lou Dillon Lane after his female horse who was the first horse to break a two minute mile.
  7. Served a term as the secretary to the Union Pacific Railroad’s president E. H. Harriman.
  8. In 1904, he designed and built a large single-story redwood bungalow, which he named “La Chiquita”, a structure which is now part of the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel Complex. La Chiquita really put Underhill on the map as an architect when it was listed as one of the twelve best country houses in America in 1915 by Henry H. Saylor who wrote for the publication Country Life in America. After Saylor’s article was published, Underhill began receiving commissions and for the next ten years (circa 1915-1925) Underhill designed 32 houses and gardens – he even worked on Casa del Herrero (Montecito, Calif.), the well-known house designed by George Washington Smith.
  9. Bred seven generations of hogs on his ranch in Montecito
  10. Hosted a dinner party where all of the guest feasted on horseback in a ballroom.

To view the finding aid for the Francis T. Underhill papers finding aid, click here. To view an article in the Montecito Journal by Hattie Beresford on Underhill, click here.

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