Located in a gracious house and hermitage on 26 acres of La Casa de Maria, the Center for Spiritual Renewal—a Ministry of the Immaculate Heart Community—welcomes people from all spiritual backgrounds that seek a place for renewal, meditation and prayer. The Los Angeles based Sisters of the Immaculate Heart purchased the 1920’s private estate for their novitiate in 1942 as a residential training center for young women entering religious life. After the formation of the IHM community as an ecumenical lay group, the Center was established in 1974 as a retreat house for persons of all faiths and backgrounds.
The Original Manor House
Mary Osborne Craig, one of California’ first woman architects, designed the house in early 1920’s for Mr. Miley, a prosperous oilman and building contractor. Mary Craig was wife of James Osborne Craig known for his architectural contribution to Spanish Revival style in the Central Coast of California. When he died she continued her husbands practice and went on to build 28 other homes, the center for Spiritual Renewal being one of the first to be completed.
Some of architectural features reflect Mary Craig’s unique feminine touch. Local Santa Barbara sandstone was quarried from the land and nearby San Ysidro Creek to build the house. Many of the bedroom ceilings are hand carved teak. Large walk-in closets, spacious tiled bathrooms, huge kitchen and butler’s pantry, and graceful arched ceilings adorn the structure. Money was of no object, so nine distinctive fireplace mantles from Italy and tile from Czechoslovakia and Spain was imported. All exterior and interior stonework is hand hewn and chiseled, and remains one of the finest historic examples of Santa Barbara sandstone craftsmanship.
Today the Main House with its intended old-world feel, sandstone walls, library, formal dining room, Corita Art Gallery, gardens and exquisite bedroom and baths, continues to welcome individual and couples in need of rest, renewal, restoration and spiritual replenishment.
The Main house has eleven bedrooms with private baths and three with shared baths. Three nutritious, gourmet quality, garden-to-table meals are served. Breakfast and lunch are self-serve and dinner is a shared meal, with an option to eat alone for those in silence. Accommodations are available Tuesday through Sunday.
The Hermitage nestled beneath large oaks and sycamores, located a short walking distance from the Main House is available seven days a week. Guests prepare their own meals or can arrange for meals at La Casa, when available. The cottage has a shared common room and kitchen, and each guest room has a private bath. It is suitable for those who want to make a longer retreat stay. It accommodates up to five persons on individual retreats or coming together as a small group. Cooking utensils and linens are provided.
The Hermitage provides a sense of seclusion and serenity in a relaxed and peaceful setting.