Vera Cruz – Santa Barbara County, California - Atlas Obscura

Vera Cruz

Santa Barbara County, California

This house is a mosaic of tiled artwork sourced from local artists. 


Spend an hour wandering the downtown area of Santa Barbara, California, and you’re sure to notice this architectural wonder from local architect Jeff Shelton. 

Several of his exquisite designs are scattered within a ten-block radius of the downtown area, beautifully juxtaposed against a backdrop of the Santa Ynez mountains. His imaginative flair effortlessly captures Santa Barbara’s colonial history with a modern aesthetic. The Gaudí-esque textures, colorful tiles, and ironwork of the El Jardin on Garden Street perhaps best emulate this motif, or more famously, Shelton’s Albitt Tower on Haley Street. 

However, one of his building stands out from the rest of his creations. Somewhat hidden along a residential Santa Barbara street is a house known as Vera Cruz. Inspired by a local landmark demolished in the 1970s, this lime green residence is adorned with tiled artwork designed and donated by local artists.

Each piece follows the theme of an associated place, such as where the artist is from or somewhere they’ve visited. Altogether the house is a colorful mosaic of art. If you look closely, each piece is uniquely captivating, depicting scenes from landmarks such as Mount Fuji and Spains’s Mezquita de Córdoba, as well as a range of exotic animals.

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