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!
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.
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.
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 Revisitedexhibit 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.
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.
On September 14, 2017 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation was pleased to welcome screenwriter and Santa Barbara Presidio descendant Darlene Craviotto to present her new novel, Californio. Ms. Craviotto presented an engaging illustrated historical introduction to her book, which traces one families journey north from northern Mexico to their new home in Alta California during the late-eighteenth century. She then read a passage from the novel.
Californio is one of the few publications that fully imagines this human story of migration and settlement that marked the beginning of the Spanish colonization of California. Copies of Californio can be purchased at our online store here.
On Wednesday, July 19, a group of international students from Santa Barbara’s EF School visited El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park for a tour. There were fifteen young adult students from over ten different countries. They brought with them their experiences and perspectives from their native countries. It was a pleasure and a wonderful learning experience to provide a tour of the park for this special group!
Here are some of the reflections from their visit:
Laura (Spain)- “It was really cool to see and learn about the Spanish history in Santa Barbara. My favorite part of the tour was the church. I felt like I was home.”
Alice (Japan)- “I never knew there were so many Japanese in Santa Barbara before. I liked seeing the cups and boxes that we still use today back home.”
Vittoria (Italy)- “It’s nice to learn something about the city that is your home for a little while. So much history and culture in Santa Barbara.”
Sarah Hilliard (EF instructor) – “For my students this is not only a language exchange but a cultural exchange as well. I love showing them how so many different cultures have created the town that I call home. I believe it’s important for them to learn a little bit about where they are living because its helps them feel like a part of the community. The tour is a great hands-on historical experience.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
SBTHP’s annual Founding Day Festival provides the time and space for community members and visitors to not only commemorate Santa Barbara’s founding moment but also to celebrate its layered cultural history and the diverse communities and institutions that today call Santa Barbara home. Our 2017 Festival celebrated this cultural diversity by successfully showcasing why Santa Barbara continues to be such a wonderful place to live and visit.
Directly following the 2017 Founding Day Ceremony, festival attendees enjoyed three hours of living history stations and performances by local artists, including the San Marcos High School Jazz Combo, The Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara, Mariachi Las Olas de Santa Barbara, Spanish guitarist Chris Fossek, and flamenco dancers from Linda Vega Dance Studio. In addition, seven local artists and vendors hosted booths and sold their locally-made products, and Presidio descendants gathered to share their family history.
The Burger Bus of Santa Barbara and Kona Ice provided festival goers with delicious food. Brass Bear Brewing and Standing Sun Wines offered free tastings in one of the Presidio’s interpretive heritage gardens. In all, our 2017 Festival attracted an estimated 800 visitors to the site, doubling last year’s participation and bringing many first-time visitors to the park.
The SBTHP Programs Department would like to thank all local dignitaries and city officials, visitors, community members, Presidio descendants, artists, local institutions, living history interpreters, and SBTHP volunteers whose involvement in the festival helped to make this year’s Founding Day an unprecedented success. We can’t wait for next year’s festival. ¡Viva Santa Barbara!
For a great article about the from our friends at Noozhawk click here.
For more photos from our Flickr Album, click here.
Kevin McGarry is director of programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
The History and Relevancy Pilot Project unveiled their first outreach effort during the Founding Day Festival at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park on April 29, 2017. This project is a collaboration between UC Santa Barbara, California State Parks, and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). Together, we hope to explore the topics of migration and immigration, while also building on the park’s relationship with the surrounding community.
On Founding Day, project staff invited visitors to share their families’ immigration stories and learn more about the pilot project. Throughout the event, visitors recorded their family stories, while UC Santa Barbara students plotted their histories on a large world map. We were able to capture the family stories of several Presidio descendants who had ancestors that traveled from Spain, to Mexico, and finally to Santa Barbara. Participants related various reasons for their family’s arrival to the Santa Barbara region, from escaping bad weather, to religious persecution, economic opportunities, and avoiding war.
UC Santa Barbara student Yahjaira Cea felt a strong sense of community after listening to various visitors’ stories noting that, “The growth of the map throughout the day expressed the beautifully diverse community that makes Santa Barbara [what it is] today.”
We hope to continue exploring the importance of immigration in our community with further outreach efforts later this year and we thank everyone who participated at our Founding Day booth on April 29.
Heidi Ortloff is an interpreter with California State Parks assigned to El Presidio SHP.
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