In 2017 the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Colonial Dames of America formed a partnership with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), and the organization serves as its service project. Each chapter of CDA must undertake a service project in support of historic preservation, or partner with an organization that undertakes such work. We are proud that our Santa Barbara chapter, one of the newest chapters in the organization, made such a strong call of support for this project, ensuring that the Cota-Knox house received this special recognition.
The Cota -Knox House (1871), located in El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, is one of Santa Barbara’s earliest brick buildings. Its appearance today barely resembles its appearance at the time of construction due to changes wrought by the 1925 earthquake and various owners. SBTHP is completing the planning process for the restoration which will involve a new roof, seismic retrofit and facade reconstruction. We look forward to debuting the beautifully painted rendering of the completed project very soon! To learn more about the Cota-Knox House and how you can support its restoration, click here.
Anne Petersen is the Executive Director for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
We often recognize El Presidio SHP as a community-based site with state-wide impact as a California State Historic Park. It is also important to recognize, however, that we have the honor of interpreting the site’s rich history on a global scale. No matter where our visitors come from they are drawn to Santa Barbara’s unique beauty and rich history. The site of El Presidio SHP has a long history of serving as home for diverse peoples from around the world, and we are pleased that it still serves a global community today.
Below is a list of States in the U.S. represented by visitors during this period.
Below is a list of countries represented by visitors during this period, ranked by most to least frequently represented.
El Presidio de Santa Bárbara’s State Historic Park Visitor Center and Gift Shop are open daily from 10:30am-4:30pm.
Laine Martens is the Visitor Services and Gift Shop Manager at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
The City of Santa Barbara recently announced intentions to explore a revitalization effort in De la Guerra Plaza. The project could include changes to landscaping/hardscaping, lighting, parking and more. As the owners and operators of Casa de la Guerra, which anchors the north side of the Plaza, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is an invested stakeholder in this process. We hosted the City’s first public outreach workshop at Casa de la Guerra on March 9th, and at the March 26th City Council meeting SBTHP was added to the De la Guerra Plaza Subcommittee, which also includes City Council members, and Commissioners from Parks and Recreation, Planning, Historic Landmarks, and the Farmer’s Market Association.
The meetings of the Subcommittee will be public. You can follow activity on the Plaza project by visiting the City’s webpage for De la Guerra Plaza here. On this page, you can sign up for updates and click through to many helpful resources.
We encourage you to stay informed on this project and share your thoughts with the City. This historic place was designated a public square in 1853, and belongs to the citizens of Santa Barbara. It’s our job to make sure that it continues to meet the needs of the citizens today.
Anne Petersen is the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
In celebration of the opening of a special temporary exhibit on loan from the UC Santa Barbara Library, The Anna S. C. Blake Manual Training School: The Remarkable Antecedent of UC Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) offered the community two free educational programs in early March at Casa de la Guerra.
In 1892, Anna S. C. Blake opened a sloyd school at 814 Santa Barbara St. (near De la Guerra St.) on the site of what is today Anacapa School, located in El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Sloyd schools emphasized manual training and were closely linked to European folk art traditions and the Arts and Crafts movement. Renamed the Anna Blake Manual Training School after Blake’s death in 1899, the school remained grounded in the Progressive-era belief that all students should have access to a holistic education emphasizing both intellectual and practical knowledge in order to develop educated citizens.
The exhibition focuses on the school’s early years and explores how Santa Barbara reformers thought about the intersection of education, the manual arts, and social mobility in the 1890s, and the implications of those beliefs on higher education today. All exhibit photos are from UCSB Library’s University Archives Photographs collection.
Our first opening event for the exhibition was a free 1st Thursday program (co-sponsored by Downtown Santa Barbara) on March 7th, from 5:00 to 8:00pm. Guests were welcomed in the Casa courtyard by SBTHP staff and volunteers and enjoyed free refreshments and some of the beautiful music of early California performed by local guitarist and vocalist Luis Moreno. Many visitors also had the opportunity to meet and learn from the scholars who researched the history of the School and curated the special exhibition, Dr. Sarah Case (Managing Editor, The Public Historian, and Continuing Lecturer at UCSB) and Nora Kassner (graduate student in History at UCSB).
On Sunday, March 10th at 2:00pm SBTHP staff and UCSB History Associates organized a special lecture by Dr. Sara Case and Nora Kassner at Casa de la Guerra. Approximately 25 people attended the lecture and learned about the history of the Anna S. C. Blake Manual Training School. The lecture was followed by a reception and an exhibit showing.
To learn more about the history of the Anna S. C. Blake School and its important ties to the Presidio Neighborhood and to UC Santa Barbara read Sara and Nora’s piece in our Winter 2019 issue of La Campana (available for sale for $5 at our Presidio or Casa de la Guerra gift shops) and/or come visit Casa de la Guerra before the end of May to see the exhibit in person!
Kevin McGarry is the associate director for public engagement at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
On Feb 25th, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) welcomed 7 students and 4 volunteers from the Braille Institute for a tour of the Presidio grounds. These adults have varying degrees of vision loss so SBTHP’s docent, Valerie, and I worked together to find ways to diversify our standard tour. Each group that comes on site requires special consideration on behalf of our docents to ensure that visitors are walking away with an equal experience of a tour that is both fun and informational.
This tour started like any other one with a big welcome and brief overview of ourselves and the birthplace of Santa Barbara. Valerie then led the group to the Northwestern wing to listen to our introductory video, build some context, and answer any additional questions. Valerie then brought the group outside to the second defense wall to discuss Spanish colonialism along with ongoing archeological efforts.
We then transitioned to the chapel where students had a chance to explore a little bit on their own after given some background information, including fascinating tidbits about the invaluable painting of Saint Barbara that is hanging on the chapel wall. Next, we went to an interactive station that Valerie and I prepared in advance that had all sorts of objects that students could touch and feel. Some of the objects included the Presidio A5 branding iron, adobe bricks, clay tiles, and a Spanish adarga, or leather shield.
Our last stop was in the Comandancia where everyone gathered at the big dining room table and got to smell, feel, and learn about the different types of cooking ingredients that the soldiers and their families would have used at that time. Valerie was so thoughtful that she took it one step further and brought traditional champurrado and hominy for everyone to taste. We spent the rest of the time in the comandancia’s dining room chatting about Presidio life and segued into talking about Pearl Chase and the more contemporary history of the Presidio neighborhood.
Overall, I believe Valerie’s unique tour showcases the creativity and flexibility our docents have to have in order to ensure that a tour is both educational and memorable. We hope to activate our visitor’s curiosity and develop a connection with this historic site so that they will be interested in coming back. Furthermore, one of SBTHP’s value statements is to strive to be more inclusive and accessible for all of those who visit the Presidio. We are thankful to Brianna and her students from the Braille Institute for visiting and we look forward to their welcoming their next group soon. If you are interested in undergoing training to become one of our volunteer docents, please click here!
Danny Tsai is the director of programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) broke new ground with a co-sponsored event to commemorate this year’s Chinese New Year, which began on February 5th. The outcome of this partnership was a free public event that took place in the Faulkner Gallery at the Central Library. Chinese New Year, also referred to as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is renowned as today’s largest annual human migration in the world with over three billion trips expected to be made during the entire season. 2019 is the “Year of the Pig” and people with this zodiac symbol are characterized as realistic, energetic, and hard working. To learn more about the Pig Chinese Zodiac, you can click here1.
We welcomed over 100 visitors to a lively atmosphere filled with candy, music, cheerful laughter, and the sound of Mahjong tiles being shuffled. Volunteers educated visitors about the Santa Barbara’s Old and New Chinatown, the Chinese Zodiac (and the Year of the Pig), Chinese geography, and Mahjong. Other stations focused on teaching people how to use chopsticks, fold dumplings, write calligraphy, and create dragon puppets.
One of our most dedicated volunteers, Kathi Brewster, did an outstanding job speaking with guests about the history of the once prominent Chinatown on East Canon Perdido St. She was equipped with captivating photos and stories to share. SBTHP also had a display up in the main hall of the Public Library for the month of February, which showcased photographs and artifacts from the Chinatown that existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
On Wednesday evening, January 30, 2019, Mr. Koji Lau-Ozawa a doctoral candidate from Stanford University’s Anthropology Department offered the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) community a fascinating presentation of his groundbreaking research regarding the use of gardens and gardening at the Gila River Incarceration Camp (a WWII Japanese internment camp that was located in southern Arizona). Gila River held over 13,000 Japanese-Americans, most of whom were from California. The success of Mr. Lau-Ozawa’s extensive research, based on a four-year archaeological survey of the camp’s material remains, has led him to expand his project. He now hopes to connect those material remains he and his team found at Gila River to the pre-War communities where the camp internees came from. Among the pre-War communities is Santa Barbara’s historic Nihonmachi (Japan Town) which was located in the Presidio Neighborhood, and is an important history shared with visitors to El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park daily.
Presented with a combination of aerial and up-close archaeological photographs, oral history quotes, and individual character portraits, Mr. Lau- Ozawa’s presentation showed why understanding the use of gardens at Gila River tells us so much about the everyday experiences (especially the many hardships) of the Japanese-Americans that were interned there during the war.
Mr. Lau-Ozawa’s lecture brought approximately forty attendees on a very chilly Wednesday evening. His talk took place in the historic Alhecama Theatre, Santa Barbara’s newest City Landmark and was followed by a Q & A session and light reception.
Over the next year, Mr. Lau-Ozawa will be working with SBTHP staff, including Associate Executive Director of Cultural Resources Michael H. Imwalle, to study our collection of material remains from Santa Barbara’s Nihonmachi. We look forward to welcoming him back to Santa Barbara, and we hope to share his future findings in a forthcoming issue of La Campana and another public lecture.
Kevin McGarry is the associate director for public engagement at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
To celebrate Chinese New Year and Santa Barbara’s Chinese-American community, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s (SBTHP) is displaying a temporary photo exhibit highlighting the history of Santa Barbara’s Chinatown inside the Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) entrance foyer. Up for the month of February, the large shadow box display offers daily library patrons a glimpse into the lesser-known history of the Chinese families that resided in Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood starting in the 1860s.
Our temporary display also coincides with a special Chinese New Year educational program that will be hosted by the Library on Wednesday, February 20 from 3:30 to 6:00pm. At this event, SBTHP staff and volunteers will be collaborating with SBPL staff to offer a family-friendly Chinese New Year celebration in the library’s Faulkner Gallery. This free program will include numerous hands-on, child-friendly activity stations including Chinese arts and crafts, learning the proper way to use chopsticks, learning how to count in Chinese, dumpling rolling lessons, learning the basics of Mah Jong, Chinese and Geography lessons, and more.
Lastly, our display at the library also highlights our upcoming docent training program that will begin on March 14 and go through mid-May. The training will be held every Thursday from 9:30 AM to Noon at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, and the course is a great opportunity for those interested in learning and teaching about local history.
Kevin McGarry is the Associate Director for Public Engagement at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
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