Category Archives: Education Programs

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.

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.

Darlene Craviotto Presents Californio at the Alhecama Theatre

Darlene Craviotto reads from Californio. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

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.

Darlene Craviotto signs copies of her book following the lecture. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

The captivated crowd enjoyed the presentation in the newly-restored Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, and following the formal part of the program, joined the author in the courtyard of the theatre for a reception and book signing.

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.

EF School International Students Tour El Presidio SHP!

EF Students at El Presdio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

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.”

Grasshopper for Grandpa screens at the Alhecama Theatre

By Kevin McGarry

Film pays tribute to Santa Barbara’s Chinatown and the family-owned bar and restaurant that brought a community together for over 60 years.

Sue Udden and Helene Wong staff the check-in table. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

Grasshopper for Grandpa, a film by local director/producer Casey McGarry first premiered at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). The short documentary tells the story of Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, a celebrated Chinese restaurant and bar in Santa Barbara for 60 years. Jimmy’s opened in 1947 by the Chung Family. Located at 215 E Canon Perdido Street, Jimmy’s quickly became a favorite hangout for a diverse community of people living in or around Santa Barbara’s Chinatown, a neighborhood located inside original quadrangle where the Spanish had established El Presidio Royal de Santa Bárbara in 1782.

Anne Petersen and Bob Lovejoy chat during the reception. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

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.

The sold-out crowd at the Alhecama Theatre. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

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.

Barbara Chung during the Q&A. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

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.

The Panelists gather at the end of the evening. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

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.

2017 Founding Day Festival

By Kevin McGarry

Founding Ceremony. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) held its annual Founding Day Festival on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 from noon to 4:00 pm at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. This unique public educational program offers Santa Barbara residents and visitors a free, family-friendly opportunity to visit the historic park and come together to learn about and commemorate Santa Barbara’s rich history. In all, approximately 800-1,000 people attended this year’s event.

Baile de California performs. Photo by Brittany Myles.

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.

Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara performs. Photo by Brittany Myles.

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.

Community booths at the festival. Photo by Brittany Myles.

Many educational booths were offered by local nonprofit institutions, including the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library, the Santa Barbara Public Library, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

Linda Vega Dance Studio. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

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.

Friends from the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. Photo by Brittany Myles.

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 Relevancy Project Launches at Founding Day!

by Heidi Ortloff

History Relevancy project team members Nora Kassner, Heidi Ortloff, Ashely Baker, Yahjaira Cea, and Paola Dela Cruz. Photo by Heido Ortloff.

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.

UC Santa Barbara Student Yahjaira Cea assisting SBTHP Board President Teraese Chin with her story. Photo by Heidi Ortloff.

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.