Grasshopper for Grandpa screens at the Alhecama Theatre

By Kevin McGarry

Film pays tribute to Santa Barbara’s Chinatown and the family-owned bar and restaurant that brought a community together for over 60 years.

Sue Udden and Helene Wong staff the check-in table. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

Grasshopper for Grandpa, a film by local director/producer Casey McGarry first premiered at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). The short documentary tells the story of Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, a celebrated Chinese restaurant and bar in Santa Barbara for 60 years. Jimmy’s opened in 1947 by the Chung Family. Located at 215 E Canon Perdido Street, Jimmy’s quickly became a favorite hangout for a diverse community of people living in or around Santa Barbara’s Chinatown, a neighborhood located inside original quadrangle where the Spanish had established El Presidio Royal de Santa Bárbara in 1782.

Anne Petersen and Bob Lovejoy chat during the reception. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

Jimmy’s outlived all the other Chinese-owned businesses on the block but eventually closed its doors in 2006 with the retirement of Tommy Chung, Jimmy’s son. The distinctly Chinatown-esque building, constructed in 1947, is now the last visible remnant of Santa Barbara’s historic Chinatown.

The sold-out crowd at the Alhecama Theatre. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

Casey’s well-crafted Grasshopper for Grandpa not only gives background to the history of Santa Barbara’s too-often forgotten Chinatown, but also explores why Jimmy’s in particular grew to be so special to so many people– and why its stewards, owner Tommy Chung and 30-year bartender Willy Gilbert, made the experience there so special and left a lasting impression on so many “regulars” and passersby. After the bar closed, in March of 2007, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation purchased Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens from the Chung family. The acquisition of Jimmy’s uniquely enhances SBTHP’s ability to interpret the multi-layered history of Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood.

Barbara Chung during the Q&A. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

The film doesn’t stop there, however. In September of 2013, after the bar reopened after being beautifully restored to its 1947 form by longtime happy hour regular and patron, Bob Lovejoy, and his son, Clay. The restoration is highlighted in the film and leaves the audience with a hopeful look at a legacy and community that the collaboration between Bob and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation helped to restore. Bob’s bar is called the Pickle Room and the Jimmy’s sign now hangs inside about the bar reminding all patrons of the legacy of the Chung family.

The Panelists gather at the end of the evening. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

There were 150 people in the audience at screening of Grasshopper for Grandpa at the Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park on June 1, the theatre’s maximum capacity. Before the film, there was a reception outside the theatre. Following the film, Santa Barbara Independent’s Matt Kettman, a Jimmy’s, (and now Pickle Room) regular, moderated a panel discussion that included Bob, Casey, film producers Milo Wolf and Maureen McFadden, SBTHP’s Mike Imwalle, and Tommy’s younger sister, Barbara Chung.

Grasshopper for Grandpa posters and dvds will be available to purchase in the Presidio gift shop soon. Casey’s latest documentary film, The Boatmaker, debuted at the 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

For more photos from the screening of Grasshopper for Grandpa, please visit our Flickr album here.

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

Welcome New SBTHP Docents!

We are so proud of our 2017 docent class at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation!  This talented group of volunteers has been training for the past six weeks to offer an excellent visitor experience at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park.  Their graduation comes just in time– we are expecting 300 eager third grade students on site next week for our popular Early California Days school program!

Would you like to join us and get involved?  It’s not too late!  Just drop a note to Director of Programs Kevin McGarry at kevin@sbthp.org.

 

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. 

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