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.

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.

SBTHP Restoration Committee Tackles Building Condition Assessments

SBTHP’s Restoration Committee. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

As part of an effort to more efficiently manage and budget for repairs and maintenance the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s Property Management Committee recommended annual inspections of all California State Park and Trust-owned properties. During the month of September STBHP staff worked with Rob Ramirez of Meridian Property Management to develop a template for conducting the Building Condition Assessments. The template provided a system of rating the condition of various aspects of each property including roofs, foundations, floors, doors, windows, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems. Information collected during the survey will be condensed into a database that will allow us to estimate the repair and maintenance needs for each property and prioritize repairs to made each within the repair and maintenance budget each fiscal year.

In addition to providing information about the current condition of the buildings the survey will also provide a construction chronology and maintenance history for each of the properties. The database will also include photographs and plans for each of the buildings. On October 12th the Restoration Committee began the survey with an examination of the Pico Adobe, the Rochin Adobe, Anacapa School, and the Front Gate Parking lot and storage sheds. Committee members Anthony Grumbine, Craig Makela, Robert Hoover, Don Sharpe, Jeff Haight, and Doug Campbell participated in the inaugural survey. Restoration Committee member and Headmaster of the Anacapa School Gordon Sichi joined us for the survey of the School and the Rochin adobe. The committee is looking forward to continuing the survey in the coming months and hopes to have it completed before the end of the year so that we can use it to develop the FY 2018-2019 repairs and maintenance budget.

Cate School Freshman Community Service Day

Cate School volunteers haul palm fronds. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

On October 11th 2017 twelve volunteers from Cate School class of 2021 assisted Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) staff with a variety of tasks to support the maintenance of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park and Casa de la Guerra.  Cate School teachers Gary Pierce and David Wood supervised students Deborah Brittain, Ella Cassulo, Nkemka Chukwumerije, Peter Coors, Alex Elrington, Josephine Erickson, Leilani Mendez, Frankie Nieman, Ajibola Oke, Aida Pouye, Ryan Suh, and Lily Zanze. While one team of students hauled palm fronds to the dumpster another team weeded and cleaned the El Cuartel garden area

Cate School students cut skeletons and masks for the Dia de los Muertos Craft Day event. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

A group of students also cleaned the exterior of the walls at Casa de la Guerra. Using soft brushes and brooms, volunteers gently cleaned the surfaces of the whitewashed adobe walls and columns surrounding the courtyard.

Group photograph of Cate School teachers and freshman volunteers. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

Students also supported SBTHP programs by cutting skeletons and masks from construction paper for the Dia de los Muertos craft day to be held at the Casa de la Guerra October 29th. In addition to preparing supplies for the event, students also distributed more than forty fliers advertising the event at merchants up and down State Street. Thanks again to the teachers and students for all your help. We look forward to working with you again in February!

United Way Day of Caring 2017 at El Presidio SHP!

Santa Barbara High School Girl’s Golf Team van! Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) is pleased to participate in the United Way’s Day of Caring program each year to support El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park.  During this beloved annual event, hundreds of community volunteers fan out across the city to assist nonprofit organizations with special projects at their site.

Team photo at EL Presidio SHP. Photo by MIke Inwalle.

This year, forty volunteers signed up to work at El Presidio SHP on September 16, 2017. While several individuals participated, the majority of volunteers this year arrived in two large groups from the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy and the Santa Barbara High School Girls Golf Team.  Volunteers wrapped adobe bricks, prepared for Fall planting in the gardens, whitewashed adobe walls, and aerated citrus trees.

We are grateful for the contributions of all the volunteers, and the park is clean and neat as a result.  For more photos from the event,  visit our Flickr album here.  For more photos from United Way of volunteers at El Presidio SHP and all the work sites in Santa Barbara during Day of Caring, visit here.



#AskAnArchivist Day

Rare books in the Presidio Research Center. By Laurie Hannah

On Wednesday, October 4, archivists around the country will take to Twitter to answer your questions about any and all things related to archives. Have a question about Santa Barbara history, the Presidio, your ancestors? Want to know how to take care of valuable family papers, photographs, and scrapbooks?

As professional experts who do the exciting work of protecting and sharing important historical materials, archivists have many stories to share about the work they do every day in preserving fascinating documents, photographs, audio and visual materials, and artifacts. Increasingly, archival work extends beyond the physical and includes digital materials.

Archival collections in the Presidio Research Center. By Laurie Hannah.

This day-long event, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, will give you the opportunity to connect directly with archivists in your community—and around the country—to ask questions, get information, or just satisfy your curiosity.

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) Will Participate

#AskAnArchivist Day is open to everyone—all you need is a Twitter account. To ask SBTHP’s Archivist Laurie Hannah manages the collections at the Presidio Research Center. To ask Laurie a question, include our Twitter handle (@SBTHP) and the hashtag #AskAnArchivist with your question.

To ask any participating archivist in the country a question, just tweet a question and include the hashtag #AskAnArchivist in your tweet. Your question will be seen instantly by archivists who are standing by to respond directly to you.

Happy #AskAnArchivist Day! Your Archivist is waiting for YOUR questions. Tag us at @SBTHP and use #AskAnArchivist.

Make Smith Arrives in the Presidio Neighborhood!

Make Smith owner Steven Soria at the entrance of his new shop. Courtesy of Steven Soria.

Here at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), we love new neighbors, and we have some of the best neighbors here in the Presidio Neighborhood, Santa Barbara’s thriving cultural retail and food district.  Please join us in welcoming new tenant at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, Make Smith Leather Co.!

Make Smith Leather Co. Courtesy of Steven Soria.


Stop by the new shop at 135 East De La Guerra Street to experience the contemporary craftsmanship of third-generation Santa Barbara leather artisan Steven Soria.  Soria’s retail experience will inspire you, and if you want to take a stab at leather work yourself, sign up for a class or workshop held right in the shop space.  Soria is also happy to share his family’s history with this extraordinary craft, and has several tools and samples on display tracing the history of his family’s commitment to leather work.

Make Smith Leather Co. Courtesy of Steven Soria.

Here at SBTHP, we look forward to partnering with Make Smith to help share this artisan tradition with the public through our education programs. Leather work has long roots in Santa Barbara County, and the site of the Santa Barbara Presidio itself, where hand-crafted leather objects were an essential feature of daily life, going back to site’s founding in 1782.


To keep track of upcoming workshops at Make Smith, click here.

To check out more great things to do in the Presidio Neighborhood, click here.

And make sure to visit the place where it all started, at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park!

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