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Columbo on Mother’s Day

Many who live in southeastern Santa Barbara County are aware of a white Moorish-style oceanfront property complete with minarets and domes called Casa Blanca in the western end of Carpinteria. Anyone can see it from the beach during very low tides or catch glimpses of it behind Santa Claus Lane while driving down the 101. It looks so out of place, the style so incongruent with the area, I would often wonder what rich eccentric built it and why. I imagined that maybe in a romantic, Taj Mahal fashion it was designed and built for the love of someone’s life. Not so. Casa Blanca was built in the 1920’s by a rich Gatsby-type party boy named Albert Keep Isham, who like F. Scott Fitzgerald, was known for his drinking and unrestrained lifestyle. Casa Blanca became a happening spot for parties, housed a secret bar during Prohibition, and was a “rest stop” for the Hollywood jet-set on their way up to Hearst Castle. Isham didn’t enjoy his lifestyle for long—due to his excessive drinking, …

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