History and Art Collide at Santa Barbara’s 2016 I Madonnari Festival

by Dana Hughes

The finished product. Photo by Dana Hughes.
The finished product. Photo by Dana Hughes.

During the I Madonnari festival, this year held from May 28 to May 30 2016, color and imagination bring the parking lot of Old Mission Santa Barbara  to life. A kaleidoscope of 150 scenes created by local—and international—artists cover the pavement in a festival borrowed from Italy but perfectly suited to Santa Barbara’s love for art, music, food, and community fun.

The guitarist was based on depictions of soldados and on the Presidio’s living history docents. Photo by Dana Hughes.
The guitarist was based on depictions of soldados and on the Presidio’s living history docents. Photo by Dana Hughes.

This year I had the privilege to paint a square representing the El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Hitsoric Park, and wondered how exactly to illustrate the site’s Spanish Colonial heritage for the average of 25,000 visitors who attend. The finished product brought together a number of inspirations I had picked up during my research and time as an education intern with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, focusing on the people of Spanish and Mexican California and the art and music with which they beautified their world.

Starting the woman’s portrait. Photo by Dana Hughes
Starting the woman’s portrait. Photo by Dana Hughes

The soldado playing guitar was based on pictures of living history docents at the Santa Barbara Presidio, performing traditional Spanish songs for dancing. In the scene I painted, he is playing next to a woman who was based loosely on a portrait of Francisca de la Guerra. Though born in the mid-nineteenth century, and not the colonial Spanish period the soldado represents, as a member of the prominent de la Guerra family she kept Spanish heritage alive throughout her life, and was known to particularly love Spanish folk songs. I altered the portrait somewhat to have her sewing an altarpiece for the Presidio chapel, which was inspired by the painstaking crafts performed by soldier’s wives and other women of Spanish and Mexican California, and the beautiful floral designs festooning altar cloths, shawls, and paintings. An image of St. Barbara with her characteristic tower is also present on the altar cloth, and Presidio architecture is visible in the background.

The Presidio Chapel in the background. Photo by Dana Hughes.
The Presidio Chapel in the background. Photo by Dana Hughes.

I enjoyed this opportunity to try to bring some of Santa Barbara’s past occupants and their stories to life, and felt privileged to be part of an event where artists bring together stories as varied and vibrant as our community!

Dana Hughes is a UCSB graduate student in the History Department and a 2015 Higman Intern.

El Coro Collection at the Presidio Research Center

by Laurie Hannah

Elizabeth Hvolboll.  Photo courtesy of the Presidio Research Center.
Elizabeth Hvolboll. Photo courtesy of the Presidio Research Center.

Several years ago, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation received a donation of papers from longtime member and volunteer Elizabeth Hvolboll featuring the musical program reenacted every December at the Presidio and Casa de la Guerra called “Las Posadas.”  The collection of sheet music and lyrics makes up the entire repertoire of El Coro del Real Presidio de Santa Bárbara, the local group that celebrates and performs music of the Californios, founded by Elizabeth Hvolboll and Luis Moreno.  Besides many individual songs for “Las Posadas” and Christmas, there are another 50 folders of folk and mission music that the group has performed over the years.

Courtesy of the Presidio Research Center.
Courtesy of the Presidio Research Center.

This collection complements other materials in the Presidio Research Center, such as the Early California Music audio collection.  Some of the artists represented are The John Biggs Consort of California Mission Music, Musica Antigua de Alta California, and Elizabeth Hvolboll performing in the Chapel.   The Research Center also has a number of songs, songbooks, and articles about California and Spanish music in the vertical files.

The guide to the El Coro del Real Presidio de Santa Barbara collection can be viewed in the Online Archive of California, along with other Research Center collections.  To make an appointment to use the Research Center, please contact Laurie Hannah at 805-965-2004.

Laurie Hannah is the librarian at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

New Book about Californios in the Civil War

by Melissa Chatfield

California Vaqueros (1024x689)On March 24, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation lecture series fans were treated to a rare lecture and book signing on the American Civil War period as it relates to Santa Barbara. Tom Prezelski, a former Arizona State Representative and independent historian, gave a presentation in support of his recently published book Californio Lancers The 1st Battalion of Native Cavalry in the Far West, 1863-1866.

2016-03-24 Prezelski (800x470)
Author Tom Prezelski speaking about his new book, Californio Lancers. Photo by Melissa Chatfield.

Descendants and history enthusiasts gathered to hear how members of the de la Guerra family and other Central Coast families enlisted to serve the Union Army, lending their legendary horsemanship to the effort. Prezelski shared his research on the problems and accomplishments of these Californios with an audience of their descendants, eager with questions to explore at the end of the lecture. The author was pleased to sign books at the reception, before returning to Arizona.

For those who missed this event, Californio Lancers can be purchased in the gift shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park  and through our online shop here.

41st Annual California Preservation Conference, New Acts, New Assets: The Changing Face of Preservation

by Michael H.  Imwalle

Approach to Alcatraz Island. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Approach to Alcatraz Island. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

In April 2016 I was fortunate to attend the 41st Annual California Preservation Conference at the San Francisco Presidio. Conference Partners the California Preservation Foundation, the Presidio Trust, and California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation hosted four days of workshops, mobile workshops, study tours, and paper sessions in and around the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Historical Architect Jason Hagin (center) with group discussing ongoing seismic retrofit and rehabilitation of the Quartermaster’s Warehouse. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Historical Architect Jason Hagin (center) with group discussing ongoing seismic retrofit and rehabilitation of the Quartermaster’s Warehouse. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

I began the conference with an eight-hour behind the scenes study tour of Alcatraz entitled, “From Civil War to Civil Rights: Structure Stabilization at Alcatraz.” The morning was spent with National Park Service Historical Architect Jason Hagin visiting ongoing stabilization and rehabilitation projects on the island. Projects ranged from the stabilization of Civil War-era fort underlying the main cell block to the recent “restoration” of the political slogans painted by the American Indians of All Tribes (IOAT) that occupied the island from November 1969 to June 1971.

Political Statements painted on the Water Tank recently “Restored” to commemorate the occupation of the Island by the Indians of All Tribes. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Political Statements painted on the Water Tank recently “Restored” to commemorate the occupation of the Island by the Indians of All Tribes. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

In the afternoon Park Service Ranger John Cantwell gave a very special interpretive tour of the island.  Alcatraz was the first developed as a lighthouse installation and during the Civil War, the military expanded its presence as part of a larger multi-site system of defensive structures designed to ring the San Francisco Bay. Attendees were treated to a tour of the basement under the main cell blocks to see the remnants of the Civil War-era fort and to the top of the lighthouse. We truly got to see the island from bottom to top!

Civil War-era Montgomery Street Barracks on Presidio’s Main Post. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Civil War-era Montgomery Street Barracks on Presidio’s Main Post. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The following Day I participated in another study tour titled “Adaptive Reuse in the Presidio’s Main Post” with Rob Thomson, Michelle Taylor, and Rob Wallace of the Presidio Trust. We visited several buildings on the main post including the Officer’s Club, the Montgomery Street Barracks, the Inn at the Presidio, and were introduced to the ongoing Presidio Parklands Project.  I also attended the following sessions,  “Simpler National Register Nominations: The MPD Approach” and “Saving Our Historic Post Offices.”

Interpretive Signage explaining the settlement of El Polin Springs. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Interpretive signage explaining the settlement of El Polin Springs. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

On the last day of the conference I participated in another study tour entitled “El Polin Springs: Habitat Restoration, Cultural Landscapes, and Archeology in the Presidio.” El Polin Springs is a natural, year-round water source that provided water for Native Ohlone, Spanish-colonial, Mexican, and U.S. Army-era settlers.

Water from the El Polin Spring running through stone-lined channels towards Tennessee Hollow. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Water from the El Polin Spring running through stone-lined channels towards Tennessee Hollow. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The tour included a visit to the small settlement of El Polin to see the spring and several archaeological features including an adobe houses of the Miramontes and Briones families. The day finished up with a tour of the archaeological lab where it was nice to touch base with archaeological colleagues from the Presidio Trust. Like the model of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park within the State Park system, revenues garnered from the rents of adaptively reused buildings within the San Francisco Presidio are reinvested by the Presidio Trust into new development projects within the park.

Michael Imwalle is the Archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Sharing Historic Theater Seats with our Neighbors in San Luis Obispo!

by Anne  Petersen

The recreated marquee of the Obispo Theatre at the San Liuis Obispo County History Center. Photo by Anne Petersen.
The recreated marquee of the Obispo Theatre at the San Liuis Obispo County History Center. Photo by Anne Petersen.

The History Center for San Luis Obispo County recently installed a new exhibit titled “Once Upon a Time in the West: a History of San Luis Obispo County” about the historic Obispo Theatre, a movie theater that opened in 1928 and was much beloved by the local community until it was lost in a fire in the mid-1970s.

Alhecama Theatre seats in storage. Photo by Anne Petersen
Alhecama Theatre seats in storage. Photo by Anne Petersen

In order to help furnish part of the recreated interior of the theater, Director and Curator Eva Ulz put a call out to area museums and historic sites inquiring about a loan of 1930s-era theater seats.

Mike Imwalle tours Exhibits Committee members John Schutz and Bob Tedone. around the Alhecama Theatre.  Photo by Anne Petersen.
Mike Imwalle tours Exhibits Committee members John Schutz and Bob Tedone. around the Alhecama Theatre. Photo by Anne Petersen.

The timing was perfect for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, as we had recently removed theatre seats which had been installed in the 1930s at the Alhecama Theatre and placed them in  storage.  During SBTHP’s restoration of the Alhecama, built in 1925 as the Pueblo Theatre to serve the Santa Barbara School of the Arts,  we learned that the theater had originally been designed as a multipurpose space.   As a result, we removed the later rake seating and restored the original hardwood floors.

Mike Imwalle with members of the SLO History Center's Exhibits Committee, John Schutz and Bob Tedone trying out the seats.  Photo by Anne Petersen.
Mike Imwalle with members of the SLO History Center’s Exhibits Committee, John Schutz and Bob Tedone trying out the seats. Photo by Anne Petersen.

We were thrilled at the opportunity to lend four of the seats to the History Center to help interpret a theatre in the region from a similar era.  In late January of this year two members of the History Center’s exhibits committee made the trip down to pick up the seats, and Archaeologist Mike Imwalle gave them a tour of the Alhecama.   In early March, SBTHP Board President Terease Chin and myself visited Eva Ulz at the History Center to see the Alhecama seats in the new Obispo Theater display.

Eva Ulz and Terease Chin enjoy the seats installed at the History Center. Photo by Anne Petersen.
Eva Ulz and Terease Chin enjoy the seats installed at the History Center. Photo by Anne Petersen.

SBTHP is proud of this great collaboration with the San Luis Obispo County History Center, and we encourage you to visit our friends there on your next trip north along the coast.  We also hope you’ll join us at an event or program at the Alhecama Theatre, a beautifully restored historic resource in El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. 

Anne Petersen is the executive director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

 

 

 

 

Building Community: Reginald D. Johnson, Architect opens at Casa de la Guerra

2016 Building Community Postcard front (575x800)by Anne Petersen

On March 10, 2016 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation opened its long-anticipated exhibit, Building Community, about architect Reginald Johnson’s contributions to Santa Barbara.

The exhibit traces the arc of Johnson’s career from his early work, to iconic projects including the Biltmore,  Cate School, Bellosguardo (The Clark Estate) and Cuesta Linda (Lotusland).  The exhibit also includes several acclaimed small house projects  which contributed to Johnson’s evolving sense of architecture’s role in designing a high quality of life for everyone.

Doug Campbell and Mary Louise Days with a historic service window from the Santa Barbara Downtown Post Office.
Doug Campbell and Mary Louise Days with a historic service window from the Santa Barbara Downtown Post Office.

We devote an entire gallery to what some believe to be the pinnacle of his career, the Santa Barbara Downtown Post Office, 1937. A Depression-era project for which Johnson took no commission, the Post Office is a triumph of federal institutional character with a mix of Santa Barbara style.    The gallery also includes a wall devoted to William Atkinson, who designed the bas reliefs on the interior, and a feedback activity designed to building awareness of the potential sale of the Post Office by the U.S. Postal Service.

Photo by Anne Petersen.
Photo by Anne Petersen.

The final portion of the exhibit explores Johnson’s late-career middle class and public housing projects through which his ideals about the architecture of community life crystallized.  An emphasis on the relationship with the outdoors, and spaces for the community to gather characterize these projects.

Elliot and Mary Brownlee stand with a painting of the barn at Cate School.  Photo by Anne Petersen.
Elliot and Mary Brownlee stand with a painting of the barn at Cate School. Photo by Anne Petersen.

We had a wonderful opening reception for the show on Thursday March 10.  If you missed it, we will be open during  First Thursday next Thursday May 5 from 5:00 pm  – 8:00 pm,  and during regular museum hours until September 18.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anne Petersen is the executive director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight 2016

Las Fiesteras dancers in the Presidio Chapel. Photo by Myriah Nina Photography.
Baile de California dancers in the Presidio Chapel. Photo by Myriah Nina Photography.

On February 4, 2016 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation hosted a popular annual program, Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.  On that unseasonably mild evening the Presidio came to life with the smells of chiles in the kitchen, and the sound of guitars drifting from the Chapel.  The commandant hosted visitors in his sala, and a Presidio resident introduced guests to her chickens and described some of her regular tasks, including laundry and mending.

David Martinez in the comandancia. Photo by Myriah Nina Photography.
David Martinez in the comandancia. Photo by Myriah Nina Photography.
Suzi Calderon Bellman. Photo by Rocky Bellman.
Suzi Calderon Bellman. Photo by Rocky Bellman.

SBTHP is proud to participate in Downtown Santa Barbara’s 1st Thursday program for this event.  For more photographs from the evening by Myriah Nina Photography and  Suzi Calderon Bellman please visit our Flickr album here.

2016 Docent Training Produces a Great Team!

SBTHP Receptionist Brittany Sundberg coaches new docents on giving a 10 minute introduction to the Presidio. Photo by Anne Petersen.
SBTHP Receptionist Brittany Sundberg coaches new docents on giving a 10 minute introduction to the Presidio. Photo by Anne Petersen.

In mid-February, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s Director of Education, Melissa Chatfield began a six-week training course for new docents.  This year’s docent training focused specifically on developing focused, ten-minute demonstrations about various aspects of life in Early California for a third grade audience.    The training built up to one of our largest school programs at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, called Early California Days.

Principal Colleen Million from the SB Unified School District discusses the developmental ability of eight-year-olds, the target audience for Early California Days. photo by Anne Petersen.
Principal Colleen Million from the SB Unified School District discusses the developmental ability of eight-year-olds, the target audience for Early California Days. Photo by Anne Petersen.
Docent Suzi Calderon Bellman demonstrates laundry and mending practices from Early California in one of the Presidio family gardens at Early California Day.  Photo by Anne Petersen.
Docent Suzi Calderon Bellman demonstrates laundry and mending practices from Early California in one of the Presidio family gardens at Early California Day. Photo by Anne Petersen.

SBTHP’s first Early California Days program of the year on Thursday April 7, and our new docents turned out en force!  We are proud and appreciative of all of our volunteers, who ensured that several hundred Santa Barbara County school children had an excellent experience at the park.

New SBTHP docent Teresa  Eggemeyer getting a great response from students in the Cocina during Early California Days.  Photo by Anne Petersen.
New SBTHP docent Teresa Eggemeyer getting a great response from students in the Cocina during Early California Day. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Would you like to learn more about becoming a docent with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation?  You can email Melissa Chatfield at chatfield@sbthp.org or call her at (805) 965-2004.

 

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers