Repairing and Painting the Flagpole at El Presidio SHP

By Michael H. Imwalle

While preparing El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP for reopening on July 15, 2021, Michael H. Imwalle noticed that the halyard to the Presidio flagpole had been vandalized.

The vandalized halyard.

Someone cut the rope leaving it dangling from one clip and the halyard would need to be repaired before we could raise the flags again at the park. After briefly searching for a local company that could repair flagpoles, Imwalle contacted Brad Houchin of Brad’s Flagpole Repair, a steeplejack by trade.

Steeplejack Brad Houchin climbing to replace the halyard.

Steeplejacks are people that climb buildings, towers, steeples, poles, etc. to make repairs. Houchin graciously came up from the Ventura the next day to climb the pole and restring a new halyard so that we were able to fly the flags for the park opening.

The repaired halyard.

Houchin asked if we had ever considered painting the flagpole. The existing 27-foot tall flagpole consisted of recycled oil field pipe with a stationary pulley attached to a threaded steel cap. In the spirit of the park reopening, we asked Houchin for a proposal to paint the pole white, install a decorative finial, and install a new pulley on a rotating truck. The rotating pulley prevents the flag from wrapping around the pole when the wind changes directions. After checking with California State Parks for administrative approval, we accepted their proposal and scheduled the work for the following week.

The new bronze finish finial with rotating pulley.

Monday July 19th, Houchin returned to the Presidio to begin sanding and priming the bare metal flagpole. He began sanding at the top, wiping the sanded pole, then applying a coat of white primer.

Steeplejack Brad Houchin sanding and priming.

The following day he installed the new bronze finial, new rotating pulley, and painted the final coat on his way back down the pole for the last time. July 22nd the park was open for the first time with a freshly painted flagpole flying new flags.

The finished flagpole now greets guests entering El Presidio SHP.

Michael H. Imwalle is the Associate Executive Director of Cultural Resources for SBTHP. All images are his own.

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