Knapp’s Castle | Santa Barbara, CA

The day after Ellwood Pier we got to visit Knapp’s Castle which is in the mountains high above the city of Santa Barbara.

Knapp’s Castle is a landmark ruined mansion in the Santa Ynez Mountains near Santa Barbara, California. Located near East Camino Cielo in the Los Padres National Forest, the ridge-top site has a panoramic view of Lake Cachuma and the Santa Ynez Valley. George Owen Knapp, founder of Union Carbide, built Knapp’s Castle shortly after purchasing the 160-acre (0.65 km2) parcel in 1916. In 1940, Frances Holden bought the property and invited her friend, world-famous opera singer Lotte Lehmann, to move in. The mansion was destroyed by a forest fire only five weeks later, and now only the massive sandstone foundations, fireplace pillars and walls of the original seven structures remain intact.

The shoot would have been better if it wasn’t for the owners who have now decided to move back onto the land and begin construction this very month, so these are the best shots I could get without revealing a motor home sitting right in the middle of the plot.

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  1. Jessica May 3, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    Wow, this photo is quite eerie and captivating all at once. Love photography that has you gazing at it for hours, trying to figure out what is going and and how you feel about it and so forth. The black and white was the right choice for Knapp’s Castle in SB-beautiful place and a great day hike to go on when you are in town. I did it a few months ago when i was visiting some friends at UCSB, and we loved it. I ended up staying at the South Coast Inn (, classy and reliable!

  2. Rick July 25, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    Killer photo man, that is some great lighting you got, even if it is in black and white it still really effects the photo so well! Knapp’s castle is a grab hike in Santa Barbara and one I have done several times while traveling there. Not too hard and the top is well worth the trek up! Sadly I couldn’t do it the last time I was in time but Gaviota was able to be explored by me so all not is lost! The Sandman Inn ( was a great choice for a place to stay, super inexpensive and the way to go when traveling in SB!

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