Pico Adobe Roof Project

by Mike Imwalle

Tile plaque on the adobe wall enclosing the Pico Adobe. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The Buenaventura Pico adobe is a hidden gem within El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park.  The Mexican-period adobe is unique in that it was designed with a relatively steep-pitched shingle roof rather than the typical low-pitched tile roof popular in the Spanish period adobes that preceded it. Despite the fact that for years you could see the sun shine through the plank sheathing from the inside, it had never leaked. Nevertheless, the 30-year old cedar shingle roof had to be replaced, and in September 2010 SBTHP‘s Restoration Committee made a priority of seeking funds to make it happen. The adobe is a City of Santa Barbara Landmark and is frequently used for SBTHP Board meetings, staff meetings, receptions, and occasionally by other community organizations. In July of this year one of those organizations, the Pearl Chase Society, generously got the fundraising ball rolling with a gift of $5,000 towards the new roof.

Upper left: Previous condition of Pico Adobe roof, November 2011. Lower left: close-up of weathered cedar shingles. Upper right: Casa Roofing crew stripping old shingles. Lower right: existing sheathing. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Additional donations from David and Louise Borgatello, Mary Louise Days, Michael and Nancy Gifford,and Montecito Bank & Trust completed the fundraising effort and I began seeking bids from roofing contractors. Casa Roofing was selected as the successful bidder and after completing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review through State Parks, the project of replacing the cedar shingles was scheduled to begin in November of this year.

Upper left: installation of new plywood sheathing. Upper right: felt cap ready for new pressure treated shingles. Lower right: first row of shingles being installed on porch roof. Lower right: shingles on front side of the adobe. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

On November 15th the crew from Casa Roofing began carefully stripping the weathered shingles. The underlying paper was nearly disintegrated but the sheathing was in remarkably good condition. After doing some minor dry rot repair on a porch roof rafter and some fascia boards, the adobe was ready for the new roof.  After a short weather delay and minor permitting issue was resolved, they quickly nailed on a layer of 1/2-inch plywood and covered it with a fiberglass cap. New pressure-treated cedar shingles were finally delivered on December 14th and the crew began installing them the next day. A large debt of gratitude is owed to the donors that made this possible, to SBTHP Director Don Sharpe for his assistance with the permitting process, and to Richard, Lorraine, and the crew from Casa Roofing for making this possible. Hopefully this roof will provide shelter for the adobe for another thirty years and it will continue to serve the community as a meeting place for generations to come!

Upper left: last row of shingles on front side of roof. Upper right: last ridge shingle being nailed. Bottom center: completed roof! Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

8 thoughts on “Pico Adobe Roof Project”

  1. Mike, This makes My Great Grandmother – Lucretia de Jesus Pico Calderon and her Descendants VERY VERY Happy to see that Others Care about where she was raised. Kudos to All 🙂

  2. This is wonderful news and I would sure be interested to know about the permitting process since I was under the impression that the materials used are no longer allowed.

    Please clue me in since I have a 1925 Monterey Revival home (in the County) and we would probably never be allowed to replace the roof with cedar shingles.

    Thanks very much.

    …Pamela Boehr…

    1. Pamela,

      We were given some latitude because we were replacing like for like materials on a building that is a City Landmark. According to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historical Properties replacement of building fabric with a like material is almost always preferable.. Is your home a landmark? Is it in the City or County? Feel free to email me at archlab@sbthp.org if you have any other questions.


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