The History and Relevancy Pilot Project unveiled their first outreach effort during the Founding Day Festival at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park on April 29, 2017. This project is a collaboration between UC Santa Barbara, California State Parks, and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). Together, we hope to explore the topics of migration and immigration, while also building on the park’s relationship with the surrounding community.
On Founding Day, project staff invited visitors to share their families’ immigration stories and learn more about the pilot project. Throughout the event, visitors recorded their family stories, while UC Santa Barbara students plotted their histories on a large world map. We were able to capture the family stories of several Presidio descendants who had ancestors that traveled from Spain, to Mexico, and finally to Santa Barbara. Participants related various reasons for their family’s arrival to the Santa Barbara region, from escaping bad weather, to religious persecution, economic opportunities, and avoiding war.
UC Santa Barbara student Yahjaira Cea felt a strong sense of community after listening to various visitors’ stories noting that, “The growth of the map throughout the day expressed the beautifully diverse community that makes Santa Barbara [what it is] today.”
We hope to continue exploring the importance of immigration in our community with further outreach efforts later this year and we thank everyone who participated at our Founding Day booth on April 29.
Heidi Ortloff is an interpreter with California State Parks assigned to El Presidio SHP.
We had a a busy day, and several of our newly-trained docents made their debut at the program. We our proud to serve over 700 Santa Barbara County Students over this two-day program every spring. If you would like to be a part of it, we can use your help! The next Early California Days will be on Thursday May 11. For more information, or if you are interested in volunteering for this event, please contact Kevin McGarry, Director of Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 965-2004.
For more photos from Early California Day by Mike Imwalle and Anne Petersen, please visit our Flickr album, here.
This atmospheric evening is a community favorite as visitors gather to experience an early California cooking demonstration, learn traditional California dances and discuss the latest news in Spanish Colonial California with the Comandante and his soldados.
For more photos from this beautiful night, visit our Flickr Album here.
The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation‘s exhibit, Building Community: Reginald D. Johnson, Architect was recently installed in the MacBean Library at Cate School in Carpinteria. SBTHP was pleased to partner with Cate School during the preliminary preparation for the exhibit and also grateful to them for the opportunity to have the show displayed at this beautiful campus which was designed by Reginald Johnson in 1927. Curator Rose Thomas gave a brief presentation to board members and staff during a reception hosted by the school.
“Hey what up” from the Fall 2016-17 Presidio Heritage Garden interns from the Anacapa School. The Anacapa interns work with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation staff to develop and maintain the interpretive gardens, living history programs, and exhibits at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. In order to establish a more awesome garden, we care for the plants throughout the Presidio, including lemon, orange, mandarin, pomegranate, fig, and loquat trees, wheat, bananas, peas, lettuce, carrots, fava beans, strawberries, and onions, as well as native shrubs. The gardens must be watered nearly every day during the summer, and occasionally we must remove the persistent encroaching weeds when it rains.
Another important part of maintaining the gardens is planting new plants. Some of these crops will be eaten, used for seeds or will simply be admired by the public. Beets, carrots, green beans, peas and wheat were started from seed in nursery flats. Once the seedlings have grown bigger and stronger they are moved to the various garden planters throughout the park where they will permanently reside until they are mature enough to harvest. The fava beans, however, were planted directly into the ground. We think this might be because they are more durable.
We also made trellises out of the invasive plant Arundo donax or giant cane. The cane, which closely resembles its relative bamboo, was introduced to North America by the Spanish during the 18th century as a building material. During the Presidio era these canes were used extensively to sheath the roofs of the adobes. The trellises are placed next to pea plants and beans so they have a structure to crawl up.
We have even worked on separating wheat from the chaff. One must grind the wheat in a rather forceful manner. This process removes any unwanted roughage, leaving behind small delicate wheat berries (seeds). We also helped SBTHP curator Rose Thomas clean the Casa de la Guerra Store exhibit and hang the Casa wallpaper exhibit.
The noble fowl of the Presidio, the Black Minorcan hens, majestically frolic and peck about their palace. We give the chickens food and water and have collected their eggs twice. In the future when it is less cold we hope there will be more eggs to collect. We also cleaned the chicken coop and installed new laying pads. A surprisingly arduous task, however a very necessary and rewarding one at that.
Along with our normal Presidio endeavors we helped set up the Asian American Neighborhood Festival in October. Paper lanterns of various colors and size were hung by rope along a bamboo enclosure that encircled the front of the Presidio. This event was held on a Sunday but even so we showed up to support the event. We moved ice buckets, set up posters, decorated booths and even drew dragons with all of the little kids who came to the event. After we helped set up the event we sat down and enjoyed the festivities. We watched several different dances some included forms of martial arts and sword dancing. There was even a dance where large lion costumes were worn by the dancers which undeniably was a favorite among the crowd.
Anne, Josh and Ashley are a welcome sight in the gardens and at our public programs. We are grateful for their hard work and positive spirit, and our ongoing partnership with the Anacapa School.
The Santa Barbara Community Flute Ensemble accompanied the Soldados and provided American Revolution-period music. Director of Programs Kevin McGarry gave a short introduction to the ceremony, introducing the audience to the rich military history of Santa Barbara which includes the Presidio as a historic military fort. WWll veteran and SBTHP Life Honorary Director James G. Mills gave remarks on his service during WWll which provided the over fifty audience members with a personal connection to service.
To conclude the event, audience members were invited to share their thoughts concerning the holiday. Many veterans spoke of the impact their service had on their lives and family, which provided a touching end to the ceremony. After the event visitors were welcome to look at a collection of military vehicles on display which were lent by Rob Gordon, as well as tour the Presidio.
For more photos from the ceremony by Michael Imwalle, visit our Flickr album here.
Heidi Ortloff is a California State Parks interpreter stationed at El Presidio SHP.
Las Posadas, a traditional reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem, is a holiday tradition that occurs all over Latin America each December. The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) hosts this program at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park and Casa de la Guerra every year. This year, the program was scheduled on the traditional date that Posadas begins throughout Mexico, December 16.
SBTHP’s annual Posadas reflects what this tradition might have looked like in the Presidio neighborhood in the early 1800s. The singing procession begins at the Presidio Chapel, goes up and down State Street stopping outside participating businesses and then ends with a performance and reception at Casa de la Guerra. By coming together to sing and walk together in unity, Una Noche de Las Posadas is a special annual tribute to Santa Barbara’s people, traditions and history.
This is the second year that the Los Agaves restaurant donated their delicious food for the reception. SBTHP thanks Carlos Luna (owner of Los Agaves) for his continued generosity. The El Coro de Real leader, musician Luis Moreno, did a wonderful job again this year, adding two new songs to the choir’s repertoire and leading the singing peregrinos (pilgrims) in their procession to Casa de la Guerra. Thank you to him and to the other members of El Coro. The 2016 Posadas would not have happened without SBTHP’s committed volunteers: Judy Pearce, Suzi and Rocky Bellman, Jim Garcia, Dr. Paul Mori, Paul McGarry, Christina and Arlene Miguel and the Goodfield family. SBTHP also thanks The Towbes Foundation, Debby and Roger Aceves, David and Louise Borgatello, and Keith J. Mautino for sponsoring Una Noche de Las Posadas.
For more photos from this year’s Las Posadas by Dr. Paul Mori visit our Flickr album here.
Kevin McGarry is the Director of Programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
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