Contemporary Showstopper

Address: 2211 Mount Calvary Road

Status: On the market

Price: $5,995,000

After visiting the stunning home at 2211 Mount Calvary Road and reading a bit about its background, I’m still not sure which is most impressive: its stunning views, its rock star status, or the unique spaceship-shaped house itself, which is unlike any other residence I’ve ever seen. The home was designed by mostly self-taught architect Cliff Hickman, whose background is a story in its own right. 

A student of engineering, art, and architecture, Hickman was an avid aficionado of Frank Lloyd Wright. At the age of 23, he dropped out of school, moved to Santa Barbara, and, with money borrowed from his parents, purchased a 1/3-acre parcel on the Riviera. Over the next four years, he undertook the ultimate DIY project: designing and building a house almost entirely by hand, even hauling all of the dirt himself by wheelbarrow. Hickman went on to design many other local homes, including the two residences on either side of this original Riviera home.

Photo: DAVID PALERMO2211 Mount Calvary Road

The home at 2211 Mount Calvary Road is one of his subsequent projects, built in 1985 on over five-and-a-half acres in the Cielito area of Santa Barbara, above Skofield Park. Pop star George Michael owned the house from 1989 until 1996, when it was bought by the current owner.

The house is set into the boulder-studded hillside in a hexagonal contemporary design that looks like a pointy-nosed Starship Enterprise: low and sleek and poised for action. The exterior is a combination of natural stone, stucco, and glass, topped with a striking, terraced copper roof. A narrow railing around the center outlines the balconies that surround the entire perimeter of the second story. 

The four bedroom, four-and-a-half bath house is echoed by a similarly styled guest house that sits uphill from the main residence like a little brother tagging along behind his cooler sibling. A swimming pool with a hot tub stretches out below the main house, with a tennis court on a lower level. A redwood sauna sits outside one bedroom, and a hot tub is perched above the guest house in arguably the most perfect spot on the whole property.

When you step into the main house, the front door opens to reveal a dramatic entryway, situated on a level between the two stories and open to both. I could see downstairs into the bedroom level and a peek of the view out the windows on the floor above. Not one to save the best for last, I opted to start upstairs.

The upper floor is one huge great room, with a floor-to-ceiling Santa Barbara stone fireplace in the center. The room is separated into six sections with distinct kitchen, dining, and living areas defined by exposed wood beams in the vaulted ceilings and columns inset in the “corners” of the room. The center of attention, however, is undisputedly the 360-degree panoramic views, enjoyed through uninterrupted walls of glass. 

Rather than feeling exposed, this open living space somehow manages to seem cozy. The roofline projects protectively over the balconies, and the six load-bearing columns encircle the room in a calm embrace.

I drew myself away from the breathtaking views to explore the rest of the house. Downstairs, the master bedroom suite occupies the front of the house, with three more bedrooms and baths, plus a family room in the center. The family room opens onto the pool and covered terrace and enjoys one of three additional fireplaces. The three-car garage can be accessed from this level and includes a bonus: a dumbwaiter that can be used to whisk groceries up to the kitchen. 

The guest house is up a path that leads past an impressive garden of succulents and native plants, but it can also be accessed by continuing up the private drive. With both garages, generous flagstone parking courts outside both houses, and even more paved space near the tennis court, this estate boasts a plethora of parking, which is fitting since it feels like it was built for entertaining. 

As I drove away, I imagined the parties that could be hosted at this fabulous compound and likely have been in the past, including during George Michael’s years of ownership. I have to admit, the image of inviting friends over to lounge by the pool, dine on the balcony, and enjoy the incredible view — with “Wake Me Up” playing in the background, of course — feels like the perfect summer celebration in this dream-worthy house.


2211 Mount Calvary Road is for sale in Santa Barbara, offered by Kirk G. Hodson and Jon-Ryan Schlobohm of Compass. Reach Kirk at (805) 886-6527 or kirk@kirkhodson.com. Reach Jon-Ryan at (805) 450-3307 or jr@jon-ryan.com.

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