Welcome to the Adventure!!

This is the second installment on this web page. I am a great-niece of the Moody sisters. My grandfather, B.E. Moody was their elder brother. As a child I spent weeks in the summer with my aunties at The Peppers, or as we knew it “The Big House,” 490 Hot Springs Road. As I grew and life changed, Mildred and Wilma moved to 440 Pimiento Lane and finally to 490 Pimiento Lane. I was married at the El Montecito Presbyterian Church through the ‘rabbit hole’ in the back hedge from that house.

As you may know from the first installment of this, I am a design professional with a specialty in historic context and small house and cottage design, in Seattle. I will put the original background paragraphs at the end, for anyone who is new to the site.

The project is to write a book that will capture this series of cottages, over 35 at last count, built from 1930 to the late 40’s, their spirit, their particular qualities, as well as tell a little bit of the story of these four amazing women:

And then, of course there was the Tea Room…

At first, I had thought just to photographically record the houses, including the gardens that have grown up around them, some of the plans and a bit of a family biography. However, in talking to all of the people who I have found through my search for cottages and who have contacted me, there is a story to be told about four unmarried ladies who, long before it was permitted or expected, created vital careers in Santa Barbara, in design and planning, banking, art and cottage development and construction, with Mr. MacQuiddy. For me, I grew up thinking that this was ‘normal’. Now, I realize how truly extraordinary they were for their day, maybe even for our day.

So, that is the adventure.

I am coming to Santa Barbara, again, October 5th through the 11th. I’ll make a stop, on my return, in San Francisco to retrieve Harriet’s drawings and to cross-tab my work with my Uncle Bruce, now retired from his life long career as an architect. I will continue to research some of the more obscure Moody houses and may need to ask for help from current owners to access the dates and signatories of original permits to verify the Moody connection. The Moody hands crafted English cottages, the famous pixie cottages, a true Cape Cod and a series of simple, functional ‘starter cottages’ immediately after the war. I was fascinated to see that many of the themes that made the more traditional and fanciful cottages compelling found their way into these more ‘contemporary’ homes.

I also need to ensure that my informal photo record of houses, so far, is complete. Last trip was intense. I plan to take photographs of each cottage exterior as I find them to be able to show my professional photographer what can be seen of each house and of its setting. He is both an architectural photographer as well a skilled garden photographer. We have scheduled his visit for the June/July period of 2008, in hopes that the gardens will be at their best. Cottages always look best festooned with flowers!!! The timing of this may have to slip, as the scope of the book as increased.

Once again, if you own a Moody Cottage and if it is possible to view remaining interior details and get simple photos of these features for later photography, that will be a wonderful additional treasure. I know that over time cottages grow and change with their families. Some original elements may still be part of some of the cottages. I was excited last trip to discover, using Harriet’s drawings, an original Moody Cottage, in nearly original condition, whose owner was completely unaware!! There were even the little hand-painted flowers that Mildred had done on the Chinese red interior of the corner cupboards!! A treasure!!

I have been fortunate to find several oral histories that Mildred did over the last 20 years of her life. They have been delightful, as she was very much at ease during their sessions, and her natural sparkle comes through – her joy in life.

A bit about Mildred here – she was trained in fine arts, taught for a year or two, and then developed a career in rosemaling – the painted ornamentation of furniture and interiors – at Barker Brothers Furniture in Los Angeles. She opted to take a voyage to China, Japan and Singapore and upon her return, set up a rosemaling studio in Santa Barbara to be closer to her family. I have added photos of the rosemaled pieces that my mother and I have, so that you can see what this is, and see if, perhaps you have examples that you might have overlooked. One of the Cottage owners bought a rosemaled magazine basket, knowing it was Mildred’s work!! Look at the Rosemale section of the site for the photos!

I have been outlining and researching, about the cottages and about my aunties and working through my photos Once I have the original blue prints and Harriet’s sketches to illustrate the spirit of the cottages, I’ll begin matching photos and plans to see how to tell the story, if I can, on why these houses are magical. As I said in the earlier version of this introduction, my father, Joe Wales, preserved a lot of the family history before his death. He will be my co-author. My mother, Brenda Ruth Moody Wales, has gotten involved in the weaving together of the threads of all the aunties and the history of the period. A family affair, this has become!!

If you have thoughts, leads or if you own or live in a Moody Cottage, feel free to drop me an email, or a fax, or give me a call. I’d like to include as many cottages in the book as I can find and fit in.

Thank you for your interest in The Moody Cottages.

Marcia Gamble-Hadley

Phone: 206.234.5599
Fax: 206.374.2649

My Background

I was trained in architecture and planning. I have spent my professional career working on either historic preservation projects; Smithville, NJ and The Olympic Hotel, Seattle, Washington, or on housing policy and design. Pine Street Cottages, a rehabilitation of 10 cottages, Malden Court Condominiums – Seattle Four-square house forms that contained modern townhouses - and Ravenna Cottages and Carriagehouses. Now, as I begin the most significant project of my career, a neighborhood of historic-form cottages in a community that is on the National Register of Historic Places, I turn to evaluate my family’s contribution to the ‘cottage housing’ traditions, all those years ago. But I find that there isn’t a definitive work that contains the cottages, their interiors, their garden settings or any glimpse of the ladies I adored, who brought these little houses to life.

I have gotten a lot of encouragement from my colleagues in cottage design and policy and from all the people in Montecito and Santa Barbara who have heard about this project, and of course, my family. We are 5 great nephews and nieces, and we have 10 great-great nieces and nephews between us. My aunties had no children but brother Bert, my grandfather, had my mother Brenda, and my uncle, Bruce, who are both whole-heartedly behind this effort!!!

Marcia Gamble-Hadley