The Curious Case of George M. Millard Books

by Madison Lowery

Charles Johnson speaks with guests, including Eric Kelley, owner of another famed local bookshop, the Book Den. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Mrs. Millard was a woman of exquisite taste, and her marriage to revered book dealer George Madison Millard afforded her the ability to interact directly with prominent artists and citizen collectors. The couple worked with renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to build two custom homes, one in Oak Park, Illinois and the other in Pasadena, California. After her husband died in 1918, Alice continued to work in the world of rare books and became respected as a book dealer, travelling across the United States and Europe to assemble her inventory. As a woman book dealer, her mark in historical records is somewhat circumstantial, so Johnson walked audiences through the steps of his detective work, backtracking through rare book catalogues and cross-referencing listings in phone books. In so doing, he managed to trace the origin of the Tecolote Bookshop to the Mrs. Millard’s inventory through that of her late husband’s business partner.

Guests enjoy the reception at Margerum Winery. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Throughout the lecture, Johnson engaged the audience with historic maps, showing the location of Mrs. George M. Millard Books and the shops of prominent Santa Barbarans who worked in what is now El Paseo. Guests were pleased to learn that they were sitting very close to the one of the locations of the bookshop, as they made their way through the patios of El Paseo to the wine reception, hosted by Margerum Winery. Special thanks go out to Rani McLean of Margerum Winery and our guest speaker, Charles Johnson, for creating an exceptional evening of intellectual curiosity.

Madison Lowery was awarded SBTHP’s Sue Higman Internship and is working in SBTHP’s  education department this spring.


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