Wednesday, June 13, 2012

petite Periwinkle lane

When my daughter went to college she told us of a street in the Santa Barbara/Montecito area where if you were to believe urban legend "little people" were the only inhabitants and living a magical life. We are living only a few blocks away from the infamous Periwinkle Lane this summer and on further research I have discovered what the magic is all about.

The houses are called the Moody cottages, about three dozen pixie homes built in the 1930s and '40s (and scattered on other streets as well other than Periwinkle) by sisters Harriet, Mildred, Brenda and Wilma Moody. These four unmarried ladies who, long before it was permitted or expected, created vital careers in Santa Barbara in design and planning, banking, art, cottage development and construction.

The Moody sisters made full use of windows, beams, doors and other house parts salvaged from large homes being torn down after the Depression to save on property taxes. These recycling efforts only gave their already fanciful creations further character and charm. Ceilings slanted to an extreme, windows irregularly sized and rooms configured in odd shapes, the homes are whimsical -- if now downright eccentric.Today these cottages -- mere dollhouses when compared with Montecito mansions -- continue to command serious money. Three Moody cottages on the market recently were listed at $1,695,000 to $2,595,000, putting their price per square foot about 20% higher than the average per-square-foot sales price for other properties in the same ZIP Code.

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