by Kevin McGarry and Anne Petersen
The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) was pleased to co-host a timely symposium, Santa Barbara: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, with partners Harrison Design, the City of Santa Barbara, and Downtown Santa Barbara from June 6-8, 2019. Our collective agenda for the symposium was simple; to create an occasion for informed dialogue about the future of Santa Barbara, and to illuminate the unique challenges and opportunities our community has and will face when considering the path forward.
To discuss these complex issues, we invited the community’s foremost minds in historic preservation, architecture, local government, and real estate for a one-day symposium at the historic Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. The symposium topic is a wonderful complement to our mission to inspire preservation advocacy throughout Santa Barbara County in order to create a more vibrant community.
On Thursday, June 6, SBTHP hosted a 1st Thursday program with our partners, showcasing some of the State Street archive drawings produced by renowned architects in the mid-1920s. This collection of ten historic, color renderings provided by the UCSB Art, Design, & Architecture Museum were mounted on the walls of the Alhecama Theatre. Guests were not only invited to view the collection but were also encouraged to enjoy a glass of wine from Grassini Family Vineyards and converse about the future of Santa Barbara’s development. Free to symposium ticketholders as well as the general public, this special 1st Thursday event was a great success and set the stage for the dialogue to be had at the symposium scheduled for the following day.
On Friday June 7, over 100 community members gathered in the Alhecama Theatre to enjoy a series of lectures and panel discussions about the past and future of Santa Barbara. Highlights included a lecture on traditional urbanism by Dennis Doordan, professor emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and a history of planning in Santa Barbara by former mayor and current Planning Commissioner Sheila Lodge. Panel discussions about the city’s historical context, architectural resources, and future development rounded out the sessions.
At the mid-point of the day participants broke into groups for guided walking tours of the Presidio Neighborhood and State Street let by Anthony Grumbine and Serena McClintock of Harrison Design, and Nicole Hernandez, the architectural historian for the City of Santa Barbara. Following the tours, symposium guests enjoyed lunch catered by Rudy’s Presidio Restaurant at the historic Casa de la Guerra courtyard. This allowed for candid discussions about Santa Barbara’s past, present, and future in a fitting historic environment. The symposium was followed on June 8 by an architectural paint-out at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.
The past and future development of Santa Barbara can produce high emotions and a spectrum of opinions. We are proud that our partners helped bring together a diverse group of stakeholders for a congenial and open-minded conversation about our shared commitment to the community. We are grateful for the many local businesses and organizations who supported the event. You can find them listed here.
If you missed the display of State Street archive drawings at 1st Thursday, you can view them at Casa de la Guerra through the end of August.
Kevin McGarry is the associate director for public engagement and Anne Petersen is the executive director at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.