Finding Aid for the Francis T. Underhill papers, circa 1896-circa 1925 0000188

Finding aid prepared by Chris Marino
Architecture and Design Collection, Art, Design & Architecture Museum
Arts Building Room 1434
University of California
Santa Barbara, California, 93106-7130

Title: Francis T. Underhill papers
Identifier/Call Number: 0000188
Contributing Institution: Architecture and Design Collection, Art, Design & Architecture Museum
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 9.0 Linear feet (3 record storage boxes and 2 flat file folders)
Date (inclusive): circa 1896-circa 1925
creator: Underhill, Francis T., 1863-1929


Partially processed collection, open for use by qualified researchers.

Custodial History note

Gift of Miss Frederica Poett, 1964.

Preferred Citation note

Francis T. Underhill papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara.

Biographical/Historical note

Francis T. Underhill was born in New York in 1863. Not able to attend university because of poor health, Underhill traveled around Europe with a private tutor studying architecture and landscape architecture. Underhill designed and built his own estate on Long Island, along with the gardens and furnishing. At age 20, he married Henrietta Graham Meyer. In 1884, Underhill made the decision to move his family West. He purchased the Ontare Ranch, chartered several rail cards, and filled them with sheep, Holstein cattle, farm equipment, and supplies. Arriving in Los Angeles, the entire family took wagons and carriages to Santa Barbara.
In Santa Barbara Underhill made some profitable investments including establishing a sightseeing stage line from Santa Barbara to the San Marcos Pass and purchasing a racetrack. In 1896, Underhill published a book entitled Driving for Pleasure, that dealt with horse equipment and riding. In 1900, Underhill divorced Henrietta and married Carmen Dibblee. From 1902 to 1903, Underhill designed and built a small cottage on six parcels of land, but shortly after the residence was built, he left town to join the Pacific Mail Steamship Company in San Francisco followed by serving a term as the secretary to the Union Pacific Railroad. When he returned to his cottage in 1904 he designed a large single-story redwood bungalow which he named La Chiquita (which is now part of the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel complex). This creation was listed as one of the twelve best country houses in American by Henry H. Saylor who wrote for Country Life in America in 1915. After the publicity surrounding La Chiquita, Underhill began receiving commissions. For the next ten years (circa 1915 to 1925), Underhill designed 32 houses and several gardens. Some of his more notable projects include: Villa de la Guerra, the Peabody residence, the Solana, the Roman bathhouse and lower garden for George Owen Knapp’s Arcady, and landscape contributions to the Casa del Herrero. His residential designs varied from Classical Greek and Roman edifices to English manors and Mediterranean villas. At the tail end of his career in architecture, Underhill began breading hogs, he bred seven generations of hogs at his ranch in Montecito in an effort to produce a breed that would be “foolproof.” Francis T. Underhill died in 1929.

Scope and Content note

The Francis T. Underhill papers span 9 linear feet and date from circa 1896 to circa 1925. The collection is composed of scrapbooks containing newspaper and magazine clippings regarding Underhill’s book Driving for Pleasure and hog breading; Mrs. Underhill’s travel scrapbook; a copy of Underhill’s Driving for Pleasure book; a copy of Underhill’s essay on his hog breading; his 1918 tax audit; correspondence regarding animal breading; a letter from President Roosevelt; photographs and negatives of his architectural projects; two flat file folders of architectural drawings and reprographic copies for the Ward and Dibble residences; telegrams regarding horse competitions; and Underhill’s hog breading lineages and logs.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Underhill, Francis T., 1863-1929
Architectural photographs