Category Archives: All News

Artist Chris Potter Paints the Presidio!

Chris Potter painting at El Presidio SHP. Photo by Anne Petersen.

We were surprised and pleased to find well-known Santa Barbara artist Chris Potter painting a vista of the Northeast Corner as glimpsed between two olive trees at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.  Chris’s landscape paintings are beloved by the community, and the Presidio Neighborhood is a favorite subject of his (lucky for us!).

The finished painting captures the vibrant colors and strong contrasts of our beautiful adobe buildings.  Thank you, Chris, you are welcome back anytime!

The finished painting, by Chris Potter.


Seeing History in Photographs

by Laurie Hannah

L. to r. Sidney Ascher, Johnny Fung, and Jordyn Napier during a cataloging session. Photo by Laurie Hannah.

Four UCSB students took part in a spring quarter project to catalog the historic photographs in the Presidio Research Center. Seniors Johnny Fung, and Jordyn Napier were part of Dr. Randy Bergstrom’s public history class and chose this project as part of their coursework. Senior Sidney Ascher and Junior Julia Madden-Fulk also participated in this year’s Docent Training Program at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). They were introduced to the Research Center collections during the training and wanted to get more experience in an archives setting. Sidney will continue her interest in collections at George Washington University’s graduate program in Museum Studies this fall. Jordyn will be working at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History this summer.

Librarian and Archivist Laurie Hannah gave each student an in-depth crash course in cataloging photographs according to best practices. Students learned the rationale behind the complex cataloging record we use, which provides access to the organization’s collection of over 20,000 images through description and subject headings, but also documents provenance and rights. The students were also challenged with determining copyright status to see if an image was protected by copyright or now in the public domain, and they learned the implications of owning images versus reproducing images.

Each student was responsible for a binder of their choice ranging from images of Mission La Purísima to El Paseo. Response was positive from the students about the project.  Both Johnny and Sidney were able to apply new research skills and historical context to current history research projects they were working on, and Jordyn claimed this was her favorite internship at UCSB. In total, the students catalogued about 700 photos this quarter—a significant contribution to SBTHP.

2018 Founding Day Festival

Baile de California performs. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

On April 28, 2018, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation celebrated the 236th Anniversary of the founding of Santa Barbara at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park.

Goleta City Council Member, Roger Aceves, SBTHP Board President Debby Aceves, SB City Council Member Kristen Sneddon, Father Larry Gosselin Associate Pastor Old Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City Mayor Cathy Murillo, La Presidenta Old Spanish Days Denise Sanford, Saint Barbara 2018 Anne Petersen, and Father John Hardin, Guardian Old Mission Santa Barbara. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

The community enjoyed  a wonderful ceremony, including a reenactment of the founding of the Presidio with the Soldados de Cuera, dancing by Baile de California, the debut of this year’s Saint Barbara (our Executive Director Anne Petersen!), living history demonstrations, local businesses and institutions, and a gathering of Presidio descendants!

Los Soldados de Cuera accompanied by Father Serra reenact the Presidio Founding. Photo by Brittany Myles.

Special thanks go to our photographers Fritz Olenberger, Brittany Myles, Paul Mori, and Suzi Calderon Bellman. For more great photos from the day, visit our Flickr album here.

Local artisans interact with festival guests. Photo by Brittany Myles.
Presidio descendants gather at Founding Day to review a slideshow produced by Suzi Calderon Bellman. Photo by Suzi Calderon Bellman.

Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

On Saturday May 12 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation partnered with the Santa Barbara Public Library to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with a program at the Faulkner Gallery and tours of Santa Barbara’s Chinatown and the Nihonmachi Revisited exhibit at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park.  

Anne Petersen presents a summary history of Santa Barbara’s Chinese and Japanese communities at the Santa Barbara Public Library. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

We were pleased and surprised that 100 people turned out to attend the event, resulting in a last-minute scramble to set out more chairs.  Executive Director of SBTHP Anne Petersen made a short presentation summarizing the history of the Chinese and Japanese communities in Santa Barbara, who settled on or near the site of the eighteenth-century Spanish Presidio after that site had fallen into disrepair.  Director of Programs Kevin McGarry followed with save-the-dates for several upcoming programs hosted by SBTHP to honor those communities, including the Asian American Film Series, which takes place every Friday in July at 7pm in the Alhecama Theatre, and the Asian American Neighborhood Festival on October 7, 2018 at El Presidio SHP.

Anne Petersen and Kay Van Horn presenting the Nihonmachi Revisited exhibit at El Presidio SHP. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

After the presentation, most of the attendees walked down to El Presidio SHP and split into two groups. There one group  took a 1/2 hour tour of the Nihonmachi Revisited exhibit in the Visitor Center of El Presidio SHP, hosted by Anne Petersen and Kay Van Horn, whose family resided in the neighborhood.   Van Horn shared wonderful stories about her family’s relationship with Nihonmachi  (Japantown) as well as the challenges they faced preceding and during World War II.   Historian Kathi Brewster hosted a tour of Old and New Chinatown for the second group, covering the first and second blocks of East Canon Perdido Street and the movement of Chinatown to the East after the 1925 earthquake.  After each group finished their first tour, they switched, ensuring that all guests were able to experience both tours.

Kathi Brewster presenting a tour of Chinatown. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

SBTHP is grateful to the Santa Barbara Public Library and to our program hosts for an educational afternoon that fostered a shared sense of community  and empathy for the diversity of experiences among those who helped contribute to the Santa Barbara we enjoy today.

Group of artists gather in the courtyard of Casa de la Guerra

Members of the Flying Colors Art workshop. Photo by Anne Petersen,

We were pleasantly surprised to host a group of artists in the courtyard of Casa de la Guerra on May 2.  The group, hosted by  Brenda Swenson, is with Flying Colors Art, and are conducting painting workshops in Santa Barbara.

Brenda Swenson with Flying Colors Art. Photo by Anne Petersen.

The courtyard of Casa de la Guerra looks out into De La Guerra Plaza, which was once also owned by the de la Guerra family.  Today it holds some of the City’s most iconic architecture, including City Hall and the Santa Barbara News-Press building.  Many of the students watched while one of their members  painted an architectural vista of the plaza, while Brenda herself created a beautiful portrait of the pepper tree in front of City Hall.

Thank you for visiting , Flying Colors Art, and for helping all of us slow down and appreciate the beauty around us in downtown Santa Barbara.

SBTHP Hosts a Santa Barbara School of the Arts “Preview” Tour

Thomas Van Stein (right) leads the tour group through the Ranchero Visitadores room at El Paseo, which is painted with artwork from the 1930s, some of which is by faculty of the School of the Arts. The Ranchero Room is now the office of architects Barbara and Tom Sanborn, who generously hosted our visit. Photo b Anne Petersen.

On April 4, 2018 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation hosted a tour of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts by Artist Thomas Van Stein.  The small group on the tour was invited to preview sites related to the campus of the school as well as nearby artwork produced by faculty and students of the school.  The preview tour helped us brainstorm with peers and formulate ideas for a public open house at the School of the Arts campus on May 6, 2018. Opening with a short presentation on the history of the school in the Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, guests will be able to view works of art by school faculty, enjoy a reception in the courtyard, tours of former school buildings, and visit nearby art and architecture related to the faculty of the school.

The Santa Barbara School of the Arts is a special resource within El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP, and one we hope to bring more attention to.  The School was incorporated in 1921 with the intent to involve the community in the study of the arts. In 1925 the school had twenty-one faculty members, 260 students, and was funded through tuition fees and a $125,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation.

The faculty of the school was made up of renowned artists, landscape architects and architects including Carl Oscar Borg, Ed Borein, Lockwood de Forest, Jr., Albert Herter, and James Osborne Craig, and many very successful students, including painter and muralist Channing Peake. Courses included life drawing, painting, portraiture, landscape painting and sketching, color theory, design and handicrafts, etching, architecture, modeling from life, and antique bronze casting and wood block printing.

In 1938 the school closed because of the financial strains of the Great Depression and the end of the Carnegie Foundation grant. The following year, Alice F. Schott purchased the property. Schott deeded the property to the Santa Barbara School District‘s Adult Education Program in 1945. The property was occupied jointly by the Adult Education Program and the Santa Barbara Junior College until 1958, when the Junior College, now Santa Barbara City College, moved to its campus on the Mesa. In 1981, the Adult Education Program outgrew the site and moved to a new location. The State of California purchased the site in 1982. The campus is now operated by SBTHP.

We will be sharing more information about the May 6 open house in the upcoming weeks, and we hope you will join us at the event. We look forward to seeing what might come from this renewed interest in the School of the Arts and the growing coalition of artists, arts supporters and preservationists as we work together to activate the school’s amazing legacy.

Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight

Docent Caroline Wedderburn in la cocina. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

On February 1, 2018 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation participated in Downtown Santa Barbara’s First Thursday program and brought El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park to life by candlelight with living history demonstrations and music and dance performances.

Special thanks to Dr. Paul Mori and Mike Imwalle for the wonderful photographs. To see more photos from the evening, visit our Flickr album here.

SBTHP’s 2018 Annual Meeting

A full house inside the Presidio Chapel for the meeting and community awards ceremony. Photo by Clint Weisman.

On January 20, 2018 members of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation gathered at the Chapel at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park for the 2018 Membership Meeting and Community Awards Ceremony.

Attendees at the Annual Meeting gather for a photo. Photo by Clint Weisman Studio

Following the formal program in the Chapel, guests were treated to a reception at the Alhecama Theatre.  Special thanks go to Zaytoon Restaurant for providing the reception food, and to Grassini Family Vinyards for pouring their lovely wines for guests.

To see our annual report covering the accomplishments of the past year, as well as previous annual reports, click here.  For more photos of the event, please visit our Flickr album here.