2017 Founding Day Festival

By Kevin McGarry

Founding Ceremony. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) held its annual Founding Day Festival on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 from noon to 4:00 pm at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. This unique public educational program offers Santa Barbara residents and visitors a free, family-friendly opportunity to visit the historic park and come together to learn about and commemorate Santa Barbara’s rich history. In all, approximately 800-1,000 people attended this year’s event.

Baile de California performs. Photo by Brittany Myles.

SBTHP’s annual Founding Day Festival provides the time and space for community members and visitors to not only commemorate Santa Barbara’s founding moment but also to celebrate its layered cultural history and the diverse communities and institutions that today call Santa Barbara home. Our 2017 Festival celebrated this cultural diversity by successfully showcasing why Santa Barbara continues to be such a wonderful place to live and visit.

Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara performs. Photo by Brittany Myles.

Directly following the 2017 Founding Day Ceremony, festival attendees enjoyed three hours of living history stations and performances by local artists, including the San Marcos High School Jazz Combo, The Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara, Mariachi Las Olas de Santa Barbara, Spanish guitarist Chris Fossek, and flamenco dancers from Linda Vega Dance Studio. In addition, seven local artists and vendors hosted booths and sold their locally-made products, and Presidio descendants gathered to share their family history.

Community booths at the festival. Photo by Brittany Myles.

Many educational booths were offered by local nonprofit institutions, including the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library, the Santa Barbara Public Library, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

Linda Vega Dance Studio. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

The Burger Bus of Santa Barbara and Kona Ice provided festival goers with delicious food. Brass Bear Brewing and Standing Sun Wines offered free tastings in one of the Presidio’s interpretive heritage gardens. In all, our 2017 Festival attracted an estimated 800 visitors to the site, doubling last year’s participation and bringing many first-time visitors to the park.

Friends from the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. Photo by Brittany Myles.

The SBTHP Programs Department would like to thank all local dignitaries and city officials, visitors, community members, Presidio descendants, artists, local institutions, living history interpreters, and SBTHP volunteers whose involvement in the festival helped to make this year’s Founding Day an unprecedented success. We can’t wait for next year’s festival.  ¡Viva Santa Barbara!

For a great article about the from our friends at Noozhawk click here.

For more photos from our Flickr Album, click here.

Kevin McGarry is director of programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Restoration of the 1928 Ross Dickinson Mural in the Alhecama Theatre

by Michael H. Imwalle

Patty West cleaning the mural surface. Note the un-cleaned portion to her left. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

Built in 1925, the Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park was originally called the Little Theatre; it became the Pueblo Theatre in 1937. It consisted of a single-story multi-use auditorium with a raised stage. The building is among a cluster of eleven wooden buildings and one stucco building that date to the Community Arts Association’s Festival Arts School (later named the Santa Barbara School of the Arts) that thrived from 1920 to the mid-1930s. In 1928 painter Ross Dickinson painted a mural depicting a Mediterranean village scene on the wall opposite the stage.

Patty West examining the edges of the Celotex panels around the holes cut for the projection booth. Photo by Ashley Emma.

In 1939 significant changes were made to the building including the addition of a foyer and ticket booth, a fly above the stage, and a small apartment. Modifications to the original building included the addition of a projection booth above the foyer for showing films. In order to project films, five rectangular openings were cut through the Dickinson mural.

Installation of the Celotex patches to infill the holes. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Outhwaite Foundation in 2016 and additional funding from a special appeal to members of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), the mural has recently been restored. In January of 2017 Patty West, director and chief conservator for the South Coast Fine Arts Conservation Center, began a two-phase project to clean and restore the 1928 mural.

Tracing the design on to the Celotex panels. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

The first phase of the project began with the meticulous cleaning of the mural’s surface with a very mild detergent mixed to match the pH in oil paints used by Dickinson. After more than a week, and thousands of filthy cotton balls later, the cleaning was completed. The next phase of the project was to patch small cracks and tears in the underlying Celotex paneling on which the mural was painted. The final stage of the repairs was to insert Celotex panels to fill in the holes cut for the projection booth in 1939. This was accomplished by finding an identical match to the surface texture of the original Celotex, then building a frame within the wall to which the new panels would be attached.

Close-up of in-painted design on the new Celotex patch. Photo by Patty West.

After the new panels were installed, it was time for the final stage of the restoration, the in-painting of the new panels and all the other repaired surfaces of the original mural. The in-painting was done by lightly tracing the design onto the new panels then painting the final image with reversible conservation paints to match the surrounding mural colors. After nearly a month, the restoration was complete! Thank you Patty, the Outhwaite Foundation, and SBTHP members who contributed to the restoration of this fabulous remnant of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts!

Completely repaired and restored mural. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

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

Cate School Volunteer Day at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park

On Wednesday February 2, 2017, Cate School teachers Renee and Peter Mack arrived at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park with eleven students to volunteer for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. SBTHP Executive Director Anne Petersen welcomed the group and Associate Executive Director of Cultural Resources Michael Imwalle provided the group with a brief introduction into the history of the Presidio and adobe construction. After the introduction SBTHP Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia gave them an introduction to “Whitewashing 101.”

Students whitewashing the last section of the exterior of the Presidio Chapel. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Students whitewashing the last section of the exterior of the Presidio Chapel. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Students divided into four teams and efficiently tackled a variety of projects including tasks related to storm damage and storm preparedness. One group cleaned drains filled with sediment after the February 17th deluge, and another filled sand bags for protecting historic structures during future rains. Under Eduardo’s direction two groups worked on preparing and whitewashing the exterior of the Presidio Chapel, the first defense wall, and the comandancia. buildings and walls around the Northeast Corner complex. Thanks to students Brandon Man, Grace Blankenhorn, Brie Walker, Alice Zhang, Piper Brooks, Jackson Weinberger, Carlo Jacobson, Bryce Jackson, Abnishek Suresh, Nick Carlson, and Ryder Dinning for all your hard work!

SBTHP Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia with his army of Cate School students whitewashing the first outer defense wall. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
SBTHP Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia with his army of Cate School students whitewashing the first outer defense wall. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Volunteers whitewashing the back wall of the Comandancia. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Volunteers whitewashing the back wall of the Comandancia. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Without hard working volunteers like the Cate School volunteers, it would be impossible to maintain all the adobe structures in the park. We appreciate your annual contribution and look forward to working with you again next year!

Group photograph of Cate School faculty and student volunteers. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Group photograph of Cate School faculty and student volunteers. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

 

Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight, 2017

Ray Ogella portrays a visiting padre at the Presidio.  Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Ray Ogella portrays a visiting padre at the Presidio. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

On February 2 2017 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation brought El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park to life by candlelight for the evening as part of Downtown Santa Barbara’s First Thursday program.

Hazel Lamson prepares a meal in the cocina. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Hazel Lamson prepares a meal in the cocina. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

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.

Dancers entertain in the Presidio Chapel. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Dancers entertain in the Presidio Chapel. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

For more photos from this beautiful night, visit our Flickr Album here.

Building Community Exhibit Travels to Cate School

cateThe 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.

SBTHP 2017 Annual Meeting

The meeting begins in the Presidio Chapel. Photo by Clint Weisman.
The meeting begins in the Presidio Chapel. Photo by Clint Weisman.

On January 21, 2017 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation held its 54th Annual Meeting of the membership and Community Awards.    Members and friends of SBTHP gathered in the Chapel at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park for the meeting, which featured a review of the 2016 Annual Report and the election of new Trustees, followed by the presentation of community awards.

A reception in the Alhecama Theatre followed the meeting and awards ceremony.  Photo by Clint Weisman.
A reception in the Alhecama Theatre followed the meeting and awards ceremony. Photo by Clint Weisman.
The Santa Barbara Conservancy receives the Obern Award. Photo by Clint Weisman.
The Santa Barbara Conservancy receives the Obern Award. Photo by Clint Weisman.

SBTHP presented the following community awards:

  • The 2017 George and Vivian Obern Preservation Stewardship Award was presented to the Santa Barbara Conservancy.
  • SBTHP proclaimed Dr. Richard E. Oglesby a Life Honorary Director.
  • SBTHP presented the Sue Higman Volunteer of the Year Award this year to Suzi Calderon Bellman.
  • SBTHP also presented Certificates of Appreciation to Los Agaves Restaurant and Zaytoon for their ongoing in-kind support of SBTHP’s events and programs.
Attendees gather for a group photo. Photo by Clint Wesiman.
Attendees gather for a group photo. Photo by Clint Wesiman.

For more photos from the Annual meeting, visit our Flickr album, here.

 

 

Anacapa interns continue to plant the future of the Santa Barbara Presidio.

by Anne Burdette, Josh Colahan, and Ashley Emma

Josh Colahan and Anne Burdette with recently planted lettuce in the new adobe planters at the Northwest Corner Visitor's Center. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Josh Colahan and Anne Burdette with recently planted lettuce in the new adobe planters at the Northwest Corner Visitor’s Center. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

“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.

Vegetables with new tile labels at the Northeast Corner of the Presidio. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Vegetables with new tile labels at the Northeast Corner of the Presidio. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

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.

Anne and Josh harvesting giant cane (Arundo donax) at. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Anne and Josh harvesting giant cane (Arundo donax). Photo by Mike Imwalle.

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.

Ashley Emma (the Queen of Hearts) winnowing White Sonora Wheat. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Ashley Emma (the Queen of Hearts) winnowing White Sonora Wheat. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

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.

Josh and Anne transplanting banana pups at the Presidio  Northeast Corner. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Josh and Anne transplanting banana pups at the Presidio Northeast Corner. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

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.

Lion dancers at the Asian American Neighborhood Festival. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.
Lion dancers at the Asian American Neighborhood Festival. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

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. 

Veterans Day 2016 at El Presidio SHP

By Heidi Ortloff

Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Photo by Michael Imwalle.

On November 11th, 2016, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation commemorated Veterans Day with a ceremony held at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Members of Los Soldados del Real Presidio de Santa Bárbara conducted the ceremony in Spanish era uniforms and carried flags representing the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Photo by Michael Imwalle.

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.

James G. Mills.  Photo by Michael Imwalle.
James G. Mills. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

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.

Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Photo by Michael Imwalle.

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. 

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