In 2017 the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Colonial Dames of America formed a partnership with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), and the organization serves as its service project. Each chapter of CDA must undertake a service project in support of historic preservation, or partner with an organization that undertakes such work. We are proud that our Santa Barbara chapter, one of the newest chapters in the organization, made such a strong call of support for this project, ensuring that the Cota-Knox house received this special recognition.
The Cota -Knox House (1871), located in El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, is one of Santa Barbara’s earliest brick buildings. Its appearance today barely resembles its appearance at the time of construction due to changes wrought by the 1925 earthquake and various owners. SBTHP is completing the planning process for the restoration which will involve a new roof, seismic retrofit and facade reconstruction. We look forward to debuting the beautifully painted rendering of the completed project very soon! To learn more about the Cota-Knox House and how you can support its restoration, click here.
Anne Petersen is the Executive Director for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
On July 25th, the Santa Barbara City Council designated the Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park the City’s newest Historic Landmark. You can read more about this 1925 community theatre on the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s (SBTHP) website, here. SBTHP recently completed a multi-year restoration of the interior and exterior of the building, and it is now available for community use and our public programs.
The Alhecama Theatre met multiple criteria the City uses to determine landmark designations, including its character, interest, or value as a significant part of the heritage of the City, the State, or the Nation, and its embodiment of elements demonstrating outstanding attention to architectural design, detail, materials, and craftsmanship, among others. For the City’s full staff report on the landmark nomination, click here.
SBTHP Board president Debby Aceves, Associate Executive Director for Cultural Resources Mike Imwalle, Board Member Mary Louise Days and Channel Coast Superintendent, California State Parks Danita Rodriguez spoke in support of the designation at the City Council hearing and accepted the proclamation.
Just two weeks later, the Theatre was featured on the Santa Barbara Chapter of the American Institute of Architects annual ArchitecTours. This year’s tours featured inspirational places to work, live and play in Downtown Santa Barbara. More than 300 people participated on the tours. We are grateful for the help of board members Terease Chin, Don Sharpe and Anthony Grumbine for sharing the theatre with the tour participants. Anthony Grumbine, with Harrison Design, was also one of the organizers of the tour, and made a presentation to Alhecama visitors about the significance of plazas as a feature of good design in cities, using the School of the Arts’ campus green in front of the Theatre for inspiration.
We are proud of all of the well-deserved attention the Alhecama is receiving, and we hope to see you there for an event soon! Check our calendar for upcoming opportunities.
As part of an effort to more efficiently manage and budget for repairs and maintenance the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s Property Management Committee recommended annual inspections of all California State Park and Trust-owned properties. During the month of September STBHP staff worked with Rob Ramirez of Meridian Property Management to develop a template for conducting the Building Condition Assessments. The template provided a system of rating the condition of various aspects of each property including roofs, foundations, floors, doors, windows, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems. Information collected during the survey will be condensed into a database that will allow us to estimate the repair and maintenance needs for each property and prioritize repairs to made each within the repair and maintenance budget each fiscal year.
In addition to providing information about the current condition of the buildings the survey will also provide a construction chronology and maintenance history for each of the properties. The database will also include photographs and plans for each of the buildings. On October 12th the Restoration Committee began the survey with an examination of the Pico Adobe, the Rochin Adobe, Anacapa School, and the Front Gate Parking lot and storage sheds. Committee members Anthony Grumbine, Craig Makela, Robert Hoover, Don Sharpe, Jeff Haight, and Doug Campbell participated in the inaugural survey. Restoration Committee member and Headmaster of the Anacapa School Gordon Sichi joined us for the survey of the School and the Rochin adobe. The committee is looking forward to continuing the survey in the coming months and hopes to have it completed before the end of the year so that we can use it to develop the FY 2018-2019 repairs and maintenance budget.
On October 11th 2017 twelve volunteers from Cate School class of 2021 assisted Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) staff with a variety of tasks to support the maintenance of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park and Casa de la Guerra. Cate School teachers Gary Pierce and David Wood supervised students Deborah Brittain, Ella Cassulo, Nkemka Chukwumerije, Peter Coors, Alex Elrington, Josephine Erickson, Leilani Mendez, Frankie Nieman, Ajibola Oke, Aida Pouye, Ryan Suh, and Lily Zanze. While one team of students hauled palm fronds to the dumpster another team weeded and cleaned the El Cuartel garden area
A group of students also cleaned the exterior of the walls at Casa de la Guerra. Using soft brushes and brooms, volunteers gently cleaned the surfaces of the whitewashed adobe walls and columns surrounding the courtyard.
Students also supported SBTHP programs by cutting skeletons and masks from construction paper for the Dia de los Muertos craft day to be held at the Casa de la Guerra October 29th. In addition to preparing supplies for the event, students also distributed more than forty fliers advertising the event at merchants up and down State Street. Thanks again to the teachers and students for all your help. We look forward to working with you again in February!
Built in 1925, the Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park was originally called the Little Theatre; it became the Pueblo Theatre in 1937. It consisted of a single-story multi-use auditorium with a raised stage. The building is among a cluster of eleven wooden buildings and one stucco building that date to the Community Arts Association’s Festival Arts School (later named the Santa Barbara School of the Arts) that thrived from 1920 to the mid-1930s. In 1928 painter Ross Dickinson painted a mural depicting a Mediterranean village scene on the wall opposite the stage.
In 1939 significant changes were made to the building including the addition of a foyer and ticket booth, a fly above the stage, and a small apartment. Modifications to the original building included the addition of a projection booth above the foyer for showing films. In order to project films, five rectangular openings were cut through the Dickinson mural.
The first phase of the project began with the meticulous cleaning of the mural’s surface with a very mild detergent mixed to match the pH in oil paints used by Dickinson. After more than a week, and thousands of filthy cotton balls later, the cleaning was completed. The next phase of the project was to patch small cracks and tears in the underlying Celotex paneling on which the mural was painted. The final stage of the repairs was to insert Celotex panels to fill in the holes cut for the projection booth in 1939. This was accomplished by finding an identical match to the surface texture of the original Celotex, then building a frame within the wall to which the new panels would be attached.
After the new panels were installed, it was time for the final stage of the restoration, the in-painting of the new panels and all the other repaired surfaces of the original mural. The in-painting was done by lightly tracing the design onto the new panels then painting the final image with reversible conservation paints to match the surrounding mural colors. After nearly a month, the restoration was complete! Thank you Patty, the Outhwaite Foundation, and SBTHP members who contributed to the restoration of this fabulous remnant of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts!
Michael Imwalle is the Associate Executive Director for Cultural Resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
On Wednesday February 2, 2017, Cate School teachers Renee and Peter Mack arrived at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park with eleven students to volunteer for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. SBTHP Executive Director Anne Petersen welcomed the group and Associate Executive Director of Cultural Resources Michael Imwalle provided the group with a brief introduction into the history of the Presidio and adobe construction. After the introduction SBTHP Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia gave them an introduction to “Whitewashing 101.”
Students divided into four teams and efficiently tackled a variety of projects including tasks related to storm damage and storm preparedness. One group cleaned drains filled with sediment after the February 17th deluge, and another filled sand bags for protecting historic structures during future rains. Under Eduardo’s direction two groups worked on preparing and whitewashing the exterior of the Presidio Chapel, the first defense wall, and the comandancia. buildings and walls around the Northeast Corner complex. Thanks to students Brandon Man, Grace Blankenhorn, Brie Walker, Alice Zhang, Piper Brooks, Jackson Weinberger, Carlo Jacobson, Bryce Jackson, Abnishek Suresh, Nick Carlson, and Ryder Dinning for all your hard work!
Without hard working volunteers like the Cate School volunteers, it would be impossible to maintain all the adobe structures in the park. We appreciate your annual contribution and look forward to working with you again next year!
This year more than 25 volunteers including groups from Westmont College, and our neighbors Anacapa School, and the accounting firm of Damitz, Brooks, Nightingale, Turner & Morrisset. Volunteers helped SBTHP staff complete a variety of important projects. SBTHP staffers Eduardo Garcia and Isidro Ruiz supervised the whitewashing of the exterior of the Presidio Chapel. Using rollers, long poles, and scaffolding, volunteers were able to whitewash the walls and buttresses to a height approximately 24 feet above the ground. This is an enormous task and is only accomplished when large groups of volunteers can be assembled.
Eduardo also supervised two volunteers who cultivated the soil around all the trees in the Cañedo adobe orchard. When they were finished, they hopped on to ladders and cleaned and waxed the statue of King Carlos III. This does not need to be done often, but when it does it always provides some good photo opportunities.
SBTHP Board Member and volunteer Tim Aguilar supervised a small group of volunteers who scraped and sanded the posts and beams of the choir loft and stairs inside the chapel. Last year volunteers helped a paint the interior of the doors, this year they prepared the other interior woodwork so that it could be primed and painted to match. The reconstructed chapel was dedicated on December 12, 1985, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For more than 30 years it has once again served the community as a gathering place for lectures, films, concerts, memorials, weddings, and a variety of other special events. The volunteer efforts to keep this building maintained inside and out are always appreciated.
SBTHP Executive Director Anne Petersen and Anacapa School volunteer Wes Izuno supervised a group of volunteers in the Presidio Heritage Garden. They pulled out the summer crop of tomatoes, peppers, and cabbages and pruned our sage, lavender, and rosemary. Volunteers also meticulously pruned our Misi Luki bananas, and all the plants in our demonstration plant garden. Garden volunteers also hauled 2 cubic yards of mulch and topsoil the garden planters to prepare for our fall plantings. Anne also served as our “chicken whisperer” singlehandedly giving “dirt baths” to all six of our Minorcan Black Hens!
Thank you to Sue Udden for organizing the sign in table, morning coffee, and pizza lunch for everyone. Thanks to Anna Ogden and Lindsay Rorick of the United Way of Santa Barbara County for organizing the volunteers. Special thanks to all the volunteers who made the 2016 Day of Caring such a productive day at El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP.
Mike Imwalle is the Associate Executive Director for Cultural Resource Management at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
On Monday February 29th, 2016 Cate School teachers Annalee Salcedo, Wendi Butler, and Taylor Wyatt arrived at the Presidio with eighteen students to volunteer for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Associate Director of Historic Resources Anne Petersen welcomed the group and and Archaeologist Michael Imwalle provided a brief introduction to the history of the Presidio and adobe construction. After we a brief safety meeting with master adobero Tim Aguilar, SBTHP Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia gave them an introduction to “Whitewashing 101.”
Students sifting decomposed granite with a mechanical sifter. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Students stripping loose plaster from the walls of the yards behind the Northeast Corner complex. Loose plaster and whitewash is stripped in preparation for a new layer of whitewash. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Students divided into four teams and leapt into action (I couldn’t resist) assisting Tim and Isidro Ruiz with plastering the garden walls on the Northwest Corner. Another group worked at sifting decomposed granite for repairing paths and walkways at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP and the Casa de la Guerra. Under Eduardo’s direction two groups worked on preparing and whitewashing buildings and walls around the Northeast Corner complex. Thanks to students Tessa Denison, Charles Shi, Stefan Suh, Isabela Montes de Oza, Maddie Goodman, Julie Phan, William Barron, Eunbie Coe, Jennifer Soh, Kate Tunnel, Malachi Schrager, Morgan Pierce, Henry Dawson, Elizabeth Douglas, Anna Hasson, Diarra Pouye, Elliott Rosenthal, and Zac Towbes for all your hard work!
Without hard working volunteers like those from Cate School, it would be impossible to maintain all the adobe structures in the park. We appreciate your annual contribution and look forward to working with you again next year!
Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
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