Artist Chris Potter Paints the Presidio!

Chris Potter painting at El Presidio SHP. Photo by Anne Petersen.

We were surprised and pleased to find well-known Santa Barbara artist Chris Potter painting a vista of the Northeast Corner as glimpsed between two olive trees at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.  Chris’s landscape paintings are beloved by the community, and the Presidio Neighborhood is a favorite subject of his (lucky for us!).

The finished painting captures the vibrant colors and strong contrasts of our beautiful adobe buildings.  Thank you, Chris, you are welcome back anytime!

The finished painting, by Chris Potter.


Group of artists gather in the courtyard of Casa de la Guerra

Members of the Flying Colors Art workshop. Photo by Anne Petersen,

We were pleasantly surprised to host a group of artists in the courtyard of Casa de la Guerra on May 2.  The group, hosted by  Brenda Swenson, is with Flying Colors Art, and are conducting painting workshops in Santa Barbara.

Brenda Swenson with Flying Colors Art. Photo by Anne Petersen.

The courtyard of Casa de la Guerra looks out into De La Guerra Plaza, which was once also owned by the de la Guerra family.  Today it holds some of the City’s most iconic architecture, including City Hall and the Santa Barbara News-Press building.  Many of the students watched while one of their members  painted an architectural vista of the plaza, while Brenda herself created a beautiful portrait of the pepper tree in front of City Hall.

Thank you for visiting , Flying Colors Art, and for helping all of us slow down and appreciate the beauty around us in downtown Santa Barbara.

SBTHP Hosts a Santa Barbara School of the Arts “Preview” Tour

Thomas Van Stein (right) leads the tour group through the Ranchero Visitadores room at El Paseo, which is painted with artwork from the 1930s, some of which is by faculty of the School of the Arts. The Ranchero Room is now the office of architects Barbara and Tom Sanborn, who generously hosted our visit. Photo b Anne Petersen.

On April 4, 2018 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation hosted a tour of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts by Artist Thomas Van Stein.  The small group on the tour was invited to preview sites related to the campus of the school as well as nearby artwork produced by faculty and students of the school.  The preview tour helped us brainstorm with peers and formulate ideas for a public open house at the School of the Arts campus on May 6, 2018. Opening with a short presentation on the history of the school in the Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, guests will be able to view works of art by school faculty, enjoy a reception in the courtyard, tours of former school buildings, and visit nearby art and architecture related to the faculty of the school.

The Santa Barbara School of the Arts is a special resource within El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP, and one we hope to bring more attention to.  The School was incorporated in 1921 with the intent to involve the community in the study of the arts. In 1925 the school had twenty-one faculty members, 260 students, and was funded through tuition fees and a $125,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation.

The faculty of the school was made up of renowned artists, landscape architects and architects including Carl Oscar Borg, Ed Borein, Lockwood de Forest, Jr., Albert Herter, and James Osborne Craig, and many very successful students, including painter and muralist Channing Peake. Courses included life drawing, painting, portraiture, landscape painting and sketching, color theory, design and handicrafts, etching, architecture, modeling from life, and antique bronze casting and wood block printing.

In 1938 the school closed because of the financial strains of the Great Depression and the end of the Carnegie Foundation grant. The following year, Alice F. Schott purchased the property. Schott deeded the property to the Santa Barbara School District‘s Adult Education Program in 1945. The property was occupied jointly by the Adult Education Program and the Santa Barbara Junior College until 1958, when the Junior College, now Santa Barbara City College, moved to its campus on the Mesa. In 1981, the Adult Education Program outgrew the site and moved to a new location. The State of California purchased the site in 1982. The campus is now operated by SBTHP.

We will be sharing more information about the May 6 open house in the upcoming weeks, and we hope you will join us at the event. We look forward to seeing what might come from this renewed interest in the School of the Arts and the growing coalition of artists, arts supporters and preservationists as we work together to activate the school’s amazing legacy.

Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight

Docent Caroline Wedderburn in la cocina. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

On February 1, 2018 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation participated in Downtown Santa Barbara’s First Thursday program and brought El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park to life by candlelight with living history demonstrations and music and dance performances.

Special thanks to Dr. Paul Mori and Mike Imwalle for the wonderful photographs. To see more photos from the evening, visit our Flickr album here.

SBTHP’s 2018 Annual Meeting

A full house inside the Presidio Chapel for the meeting and community awards ceremony. Photo by Clint Weisman.

On January 20, 2018 members of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation gathered at the Chapel at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park for the 2018 Membership Meeting and Community Awards Ceremony.

Attendees at the Annual Meeting gather for a photo. Photo by Clint Weisman Studio

Following the formal program in the Chapel, guests were treated to a reception at the Alhecama Theatre.  Special thanks go to Zaytoon Restaurant for providing the reception food, and to Grassini Family Vinyards for pouring their lovely wines for guests.

To see our annual report covering the accomplishments of the past year, as well as previous annual reports, click here.  For more photos of the event, please visit our Flickr album here.

Una Noche de Estrellas, SBTHP’s Fundraiser Under the Stars

On Saturday November 11, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) held its fundraising event, Una Noche de Estrellas, in the courtyard of Casa de la Guerra.  This contemporary Spanish-themed event featured paella made on site, a signature sangria,  music by members of the Santa Barbara Folk Orchestra, SBTHP’s Musicians in Residence, and performance by the Cota Dancers.

SBTHP thanks Event Chairs Debby Aceves and Keith Mautino, and Honorary co-chairs Tom Parker and Chris Parker, and Jack Theimer and Jeff Theimer. Thanks also go to Zohe Felici at Felici Events for the beautiful design of the evening.

For more images from this magical night, visit our Flickr album here.



The 2017 Epic Olive Odyssey

by Michael H. Imwalle

On October 28th almost fifty volunteers from the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation started the 2017 olive harvest at the Santa Inés Mission Mills.  SBTHP staff, board, a team from the Anacapa School, and community volunteers gathered on a mild Sunday morning to pick the California Mission olives from the Mission grove. With a record turnout of volunteer pickers, almost the entire Mission grove was picked by lunch time. After picking volunteers were treated to a tour of the historic fulling and grist mills with Associate Executive Director of Cultural Resources Mike Imwalle. Following the tour, volunteers were treated to a barbecue lunch hosted by Mission Mills Agricultural and Maintenance Supervisors Tom Walton and Leeann Haslouer.

The following three days a six-person crew of professional pickers gleaned the remaining Manzanillo, Lucca, Grappalo, and Arbequina varietals from the Mills and Rasmussen groves.

We harvested 3.57 tons of olives, another record harvest. On Wednesday November 1st the fruit was processed at Figueroa Farms less than five miles from the site where they were harvested. The fruit produced 114 gallons of Extra Virgin olive oil. That converts to almost ninety cases of 12 – 12.5 oz. bottles. Ordinarily oil is stored in barrels prior to bottling until the solid particles settle to produce a clear product without sediment. Oil bottled immediately after processing still has solids suspended in the oil producing a slightly cloudy looking oil. The cloudiness reflects the sediments still suspended in the oil.

Volunteers enjoying the culinary artistry of Tom Walton.

The first twenty cases of the 2017 harvest were packed immediately and bottled as our 2017 “Olio Nuovo” or new oil. Olio Nuovo is the first press of the season. It is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor. It is loaded with polyphenols and Omega 3s, making Olio Nuovo the healthiest oil available from each harvest.

“Liquid Sunshine” 2017 Olio Nuovo.

Produced from a blend of Arbeqina, Grappalo, Lucca, Manzanillo, and Mission olives, this special early release is available for a limited time. This year’s oil has been delivered and is available today! Order yours online at here or pick some up in the museum shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.

Michael Imwalle is Associate Executive Director for Cultural Resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Darlene Craviotto Presents Californio at the Alhecama Theatre

Darlene Craviotto reads from Californio. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

On September 14, 2017 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation was pleased to welcome screenwriter and Santa Barbara Presidio descendant Darlene Craviotto to present her new novel, Californio.  Ms. Craviotto presented an engaging illustrated historical introduction to her book, which traces one families journey north from northern Mexico to their new home in Alta California during the late-eighteenth century.  She then read a passage from the novel.

Darlene Craviotto signs copies of her book following the lecture. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

The captivated crowd enjoyed the presentation in the newly-restored Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, and following the formal part of the program, joined the author in the courtyard of the theatre for a reception and book signing.

Californio is one of the few publications that fully imagines this human story of migration and settlement that marked the beginning of the Spanish colonization of California. Copies of Californio can be purchased at our online store here.

Up-to-date news, notes, and behind the scenes at SBTHP

The NAI Blog

From the National Association for Interpretation

Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library

Helping to tell the stories of the Southwest