Category Archives: Santa Inés Mission Mills

Artists Paint the Santa Ines Mission Mills

by Wayne Sherman

Exactly one year ago SBTHP held its first “Art from the Groves” artist’s day in partnership with the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art at the Santa Inés Mission Mills site.  The artists returned for our “Pick ‘n Paint” Volunteer Harvest Day this past November and on Saturday, April 12th, 2014 the SBTHP and Elverhoj Museum held the final chance for artists to transfer their impressions of the Mill Complex and nearby environs to paper or canvas prior to a Juried Art Exhibition to be held at the Elverhoj Museum in Solvang from June 14th until September 28th, 2014

This past Saturday about 28 artists of various mediums attended and enjoyed their chance to photograph/paint/draw the historic site. The photographers rejoiced at the overcast morning as it was “as if the whole scene were in a giant light-box.” When more painters showed up and set up their wares the photographers left and the painting and drawing began. SBTHP Mission Mills Steward Wayne Sherman and “the Gator” assisted by moving artists and their equipment in and out of the park. Esther Jacobsen Bates and Linda Small of the Elverhoj Museum welcomed the artists and invited them to participate in the exhibition.  A historical tour was given mid-morning by Steward Sherman to all interested parties. The artists ranged from beginning students to well-oiled and well known paint slingers. The photographers were armed with modern digital cameras, trusty old roll film cameras and even one very large glass negative tripod camera. One woman was noted setting up miniature plastic horses and lying on her belly to photograph them with the Mills in the background. At any rate the air was full of artistic endeavors that day. The sun came out around one thirty and the last painter packed up at three when one of the photographers slinked back in for more shots of the site sans people.

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It will be a very interesting exhibition from all that I saw going on. I did peek at a few of the painted works and pronounced them all $500 dollar winners. Good thing I’m not the judge.

The opening reception and awards presentation for “Art from the Groves/ Santa Ines Mission Mills” will take place at the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art on June 14th from 4 to 6 pm. A Juror’s Award will be presented by award-winning fine art painter Robert Burridge in the amount of $500.00. First place will garner $250.00 and second place takes $150.00 home for the effort.  The participating artists will also have a chance to have their art work considered for a new label for SBTHP’s olive oil if they so desire.

For more information on the contest or the exhibition please contact:

Elverhoj Museum of History & Art

1624 Elverhoj Way

Solvang, Ca 93463


Wayne Sherman is the steward at the Santa Inés Mission Mills

California Missions Foundation Supports SBTHP’s Preservation Efforts at the Santa Inés Mission Mills

by Michael Imwalle

Painted Figure as it appeared in 2002. Photo by by Michael Imwalle.
Painted Figure as it appeared in 2002. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

The Santa Barbara Trust for historic Preservation recently completed an important conservation assessment at the Santa Inés Mission Mills property thanks to a grant from the California Missions Foundation (CMF).

According to Santa Inés Mission’s annual account books, construction of two masonry reservoirs and a water-powered grist mill was completed by October 1820. The following year a batán or fulling facility had been constructed. The fulling mill operated with a vertical “New England-style” water wheel which powered water from the zanja (ditch). An interesting feature of the fulling mill structure is an enigmatic anthropomorphic figure painted on the masonry surface of the south-facing wall.

A detailed condition assessment was performed in 2001 to determine the age and condition of the painting (you can read more about that here). While the overall condition of the image was considered good, the study found that it had been affected by fracturing, detachment, surface loss, salt formation, and biological growth. The 2001 study recommended regular monitoring of the condition, including the detailed examination of chronologic, time-lapsed photographs to determine if additional loss of material was taking place.

Antoinette and Rick on the scaffolding during fieldwork phase of the project. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Antoinette and Rick on the scaffolding during fieldwork phase of the project. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

Thanks to a generous grant from CMF, SBTHP was able to hire rock art conservator Antoinette Padgett and rock art photographer Rick Bury to perform an updated assessment of the figure in 2013. The recent study made several recommendations regarding actions to be undertaken to slow or halt the processes that are causing the damage to the figure.   We hope to secure continued support from CMF or other generous donors to support the study and conservation of this important piece of California history.

Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

SBTHP’s Epic Olive Odyssey Part Two: The 2013 Harvest

by Michael H. Imwalle

Closeup of the harvest.  The combination of black and green olives makes for tasty oil.  Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Closeup of the harvest. The combination of black and green olives makes for tasty oil. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

On November 9th the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) hosted our 3rd Annual Volunteer Olive Picking Day at the Santa Inés Mission Mills property. More than twenty five SBTHP Board, staff, and volunteers picked over 600 pounds of olives for the 2013 crush! Volunteers picked five hundred pounds of Arbequina olivess from the Mill Grove and another hundred and fifty pounds of Mission Olives from the Mission Grove. Park Steward Wayne Sherman organized a delightful lunch followed by a tour of the mills for new visitors to the site.

After another successful volunteer picking event, a crew of professional pickers were contracted to pick the remainder of the olives. A crew of twelve picked another 2 ½ tons of Lucca, Mission, and Manzanillo olives during two days the following week. Olives were delivered to the miller at Figueroa Farms within hours of being picked. A special thank you goes out to Shawn Addison of Figueroa Farms for lending us picking bins at no cost and milling the olives at a discounted price.


Despite having to engage in a late-season battle with the Mediterranean Olive Fly, it was a very successful year for the SBTHP olive enterprise. Between the volunteers and the professionals we harvested 6,116 pounds or 3.06 tons of olives netting 122.5 gallons of the oil of the gods. That is a yield of forty gallons of oil per ton of fruit. That is an increase of almost 15 percent over last year’s yield of 35 gallons per ton. Furthermore, we were able to pick almost twice as much fruit in nearly half the time.

Olio Nuovo, limited quantity available. Photo y Anne Petersen.
Olio Nuovo, limited quantity available. Photo by Anne Petersen.

On November 25th Wayne delivered 122.5 gallons of virgin olive oil to the Olivos Del Mar packing facility and on the 27th  picked up our first ten cases bottled as “Olio Nuovo” or new oil. Olio Nuovo is the first press of the season. It is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor loaded with polyphenols, making Olio Nuovo the healthiest oil available from each harvest. Produced from a blend of Arbeqina, Grappalo, Lucca, Manzanillo, and Mission olives, this special early release is available for a limited time. Order yours online today or pick some up in the museum shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.  For more photos from our volunteer olive picking event, visit our Flickr page here.

Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and he loves that peppery olio nuovo!

Our Olive Oil is here! We saved you a bottle.

Mission Mills Olive OilThe Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is pleased and proud to introduce our Mission Mills Olive Oil, made from olives grown at the Santa Inés Mission Mills, a beautiful historic property in the Santa Ynez Valley owned by the State of California and operated by SBTHP. To read more about the process of harvesting and processing our olive oil, click here.

All tasters agree that our oil has a special “tang,” and we invite you to try a bottle. For dipping or drizzling over a salad….we think it’s great! Priced at $14.95 for 12.5 ounces, it’s a great deal, and, we’re offering a special 20% discount for SBTHP members until September 2013.

Come visit and add our oil to your shopping list, or you can purchase it online, here.

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Scans the Santa Inés Mission Mills in 3-D!

by Michael H. Imwalle

I first began working with Ronald “Chip” Fenenga and students from the Environmental and Spatial Technologies at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in the spring of 2003 during a project to record the Mission Santa Inés Water System. The EAST initiative provides technology training to students through student-driven service projects, including hardware and software for 3D modeling, GPS/GIS mapping, and Computer Aided Design (CAD). The adoption and inclusion of 3D imaging technology seemed the next best step to him and his administration to keep SYVUHS students at the forefront of spatial technologies.

Laser scanner used in the project.
Laser scanner used in the project.

In August 2012 SYVUHS partnered with CyArk to become the first and only high school in the world to use LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. Using CyArk software, the data gathered by the Faro Focus 3D laser scanner is converted into a photo-like representation of what is scanned.  The scanner cost $65,000 and the software program cost $8,000. Grant funding for the scanner and software were secured from ROP, as well as supplemental assistance from CyArk and their industry partners. To see CyArk’s blog post about the project click here.

The scanner, smaller than an Xbox video game console and mounted on a tripod, can perform an almost 360 degree scan of an area, accurate to within one millimeter, in about 6 minutes. It can scan 1.1 million points of data per second. After a crash course in operating the scanner and software, Chip Fenenga unleashed the new technology on his students last September.

Mike Imwalle with the Students in the EAST program.
Mike Imwalle with the Students in the EAST program.

I met Chip and some of the 32 EAST students working on the project at the Santa Inés Mission Mills on April 25th to begin scanning the grist mill, fulling mill, and reservoirs. Students began taking multiple scans of the exteriors and interiors of the various features while carefully supplementing all of the scanned areas with photography. Of particular interest to me was the operation of the two mills and how water was conveyed and stored for use by each of the two facilities.

Elevation profile of the site created during the project.
Elevation profile of the site created during the project.
Adding additional lights to capture photographic data.
Adding additional lights to capture photographic data.

In order to illustrate this, I asked Chip and his students if they could scan the lower level of the grist mill. When Chip responded by saying that he thought it would be too dark to capture the photographic data, two of the students immediately volunteered to run home and get some lights. Within twenty minutes the young ladies returned with a generator and gangs of lights for illuminating the space. The scanning of the lower level produced new information about the exact location of the horizontal wheel, the size and position of the penstock for driving the water-powered wheel, and how the mill was drained into adjacent Alamo Pintado Creek.

elevation total all cropped
3D model of the Santa Ines Mission Mills, with elevations, created during the project.


EAST program students in the computer lab.
EAST program students in the computer lab.

After collecting the data at the site it is transferred to computers where software is used to render 3-dimensional models of the buildings and features scanned in the field.  A video produced by the students showing animated fly-throughs of the site can be seen here. For a feature story about the SYVUHS EAST class scanning the mission building on KEYT click here.  To read a Santa Ynez Valley News article about the project, click here.

Thank you to Chip Fenenga and the 32 EAST students that participated in this project. Thank you to Superintendent Paul Turnbull, Principal Mark Swanitz, and the entire Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District for this incredibly valuable resource. We look forward to working with you on many successful preservation projects in the future.

Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

SBTHP’s Epic Olive Odyssey of 2012

by Michael H. Imwalle

In 1996 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) purchased the Santa Inés Mission Mills property in Solvang, California. Former owners Harry and Ellen Knill painstakingly researched and restored the roofs of two early 19th century mill buildings as well as the associated reservoirs. While the Knills lived on the property during the early 1990s they planted seventy-eight Manzanillo variety olive trees along the perimeter of the property. Those mature trees were largely responsible for SBTHP’s first successful olive oil pressing on December 10, 2012.

In 2007 the Santa Inés Mission Mill Committee and the SBTHP Board of Directors endorsed the idea of planting olive trees on the property to interpret the mission period agricultural history of the property as well as provide an income stream to help manage the existing cultural and natural resources as well as development of a state historic park in the future. In July and August of 2007 crews and volunteers planted more than 2400 olive trees on the SBTHP property including Mission, Manzanillo, Grappolo, Lucca, and Arbequina varieties.

(Note: we are pleased to introduce a new photo gallery feature from Wrodpress. To see captions for any of the images below, hover your mouse over the image. To see a slideshow of each gallery, simply click on any image.)

After five years of irrigation challenges, several bouts of bug infestations, gophers, ground squirrels, verticillium wilt, and crop freezes we have finally produced some quality olive oil. Between December 5 and 7, 2012 SBTHP staff, board members, a crew of five pickers, and volunteers picked 3,200 pounds of olives for crushing into oil. On Saturday December 8, 2012 another 576 pounds of olives were picked by volunteers from the Elverhoj Museum’s Pick and Paint event. Santa Inés Mission Mill Park Steward Wayne Sherman is to be congratulated for coordinating the maintenance, picking, and transportation of what we hope is the first of many cash crops.

On Monday December 5, 2012 four large orchard bins weighing almost 2 tons were delivered to Figueroa Farms in Santa Ynez for crushing. Wayne watched as our olives were dumped into a hopper then up a conveyor to the processing plant. First the fruit is run through a powerful blower that removes twigs and leaves from the fruit. Next it is run through the crusher, which grinds the olives and the pits into paste. A machine called a malaxer separates the liquid (water and oil) from the olive paste then the oil is separated from the water in a centrifuge. The solid waste is returned to the olive groves for fertilizer and the oil is pumped into barrels for transportation and storage.

Wayne and I returned to Figueroa Farms the following day to pick up our oil. We were ecstatic to find out that our 3,776 pounds of olives yielded 67.1 gallons of olive oil. I delivered the oil to the Olivos del Mar packing facility where SBTHP Director Craig Makela will be bottling the oil. I am happy to announce that SBTHP will be selling .375 liter bottles of Santa Inés Mission Mill olive oil very soon. As soon as the oil has had a few weeks to settle, the oil will be available for purchase the El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP gift shop, the SBTHP website, and on the California State Parks Foundation website. Stay tuned for the announcement about the sale and thanks to all the staff and volunteers that made this possible! For more photos from all stages of picking and procession the lives, visit our Flickr page.

Mike Imwalle with the first two bottles of Santa Ines Mission Mills olive oil!
Mike Imwalle with the first two bottles of Santa Ines Mission Mills olive oil!

Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Mike generously shared the first bottle of oil at the SBTHP docent potluck on December 12, 2012.   

When is the Tagging of a Historic Monument more than Graffiti?

by Mike Imwalle

When SBTHP purchased the Santa Inés Mission Mills property in from Harry Knill 1994 the organization knew it was getting remarkably well-preserved and thoughtfully restored masonry buildings that formerly housed grist and fulling mills as well as a series of ditches and reservoirs designed to supply them with water power. In addition to the amazing mission-era architecture, they also acquired some mission-era artwork as well.

Overview of east end of fulling mill building with inset of painted red figure. Photograph by Michael Imwalle.

If you look closely at the east end of the fulling mill building in just the right light, you can see the faint pink outline of an anthropomorphic form. The figure is painted on the surface of the lime mortar and sandstone wall.  Affectionately referred to as “the painted red man,” the figure appears to be pointing at the former location of the vertical water wheel that supplied power to the fulling mill. The water-powered fulling mill processed woven woolen cloth.

Close-up of cross-section of mortar and paint. Note boundary between paint layer (top) and mortar layer (bottom). Photograph by Rick Bury.

Numerous people have suggested that the figure appears to resemble anthropomorphic figures that appear in Chumash rock art. Of particular interest is the material used to paint the figure. Unlike the traditional paints made of an oil base and mineral pigments such as hematite and iron oxide, the painted figure on the Santa Inés Mission fulling mill building is painted with a paint derived from Roman technology. The material used to paint the red figure is called pozzolana. Pozzolana is a type of hydraulic lime cement that is colored by adding crushed tile as a pigment. Pozzolana with an identical chemical signature was also identified as flooring in one of the rooms of the convento and as a lining for the neophyte lavanderia at the Mission complex.

In 2001 SBTHP commissioned Antoinette Padgett and Alan Watchman to do an analysis and condition assessment of the painted figure. The condition assessment identified several adverse conditions to the painting such as blind detachment, micro-colonial fungi, small cracks, surface loss, and visible salts. Despite the years of exposure, the remaining painting appeared to be quite stable. A piece of mortar containing red pigment was recovered from the floor of the reservoir for analysis and dating. The age of the carbon in the calcite was determined by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS 14C). The pozzolana mixture for the painting was probably made between AD 1823 and AD 1829.

Color-enhanced photograph and drawing of the painted red figure. Photograph by Rick Bury. Drawing by Dan Reeves.

It is unclear how long the fulling mill operated. It was designed and built by Joseph Chapman in 1820, but operation of the mill probably came to a halt as the result of the Chumash revolt of 1824. Whether the mill ever operated after the revolt is not known. Was the painting made during the period of operation for the mill? Was the painting made after the mill was abandoned? Was the figure that appears to be pointing at the water wheel painted to commemorate the wheel that no longer turned? We may never know the answers to these questions. What we do know is the Santa Inés Mission Mill property contains a very special resource that appears to be Chumash art painted on and with materials introduced to California by the Spanish by way of the Roman Empire.

Mike Imwalle presenting the “Red Painted Man” (directly across the reservoir, out of view in this image) to docents from the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Preserving “The Land of Poco Tiempo”

For generations, travelers and locals alike have drawn inspiration from the historic structures and cultural landscapes left behind by earlier Californians.  Here, Wayne Sherman hearkens back to turn-of-the twentieth century writers, who, like many of us today, sought to recapture the spirit of Hispanic California.  As Wayne reminds us, the echoes of this past sound just a bit louder in beautiful pastoral setting like that of the Santa Inés Mission Mills.

by Wayne Sherman

In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear, but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field to ponder and dream; And lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.

— Joshua L. Chamberlain

Charles "Carlos" Jenkins. Courtesy of Wayne Sherman.

I first encountered the expression “poco tiempo” while researching a collection once belonging to an American Civil War veteran from Los Angeles. His name was Charles “Carlos” Jenkins and, in his day, he was a well known character around the Los Angeles area. He had arrived in the area from Ohio with his stepfather George Dalton in 1850. George Dalton was the brother of Henry “Don Enrique” Dalton, the largest landowner in the San Gabriel Valley.

Author Susanna Bryant Dakin interviewed Charles for her book A Scotch Paisano: Hugo Reid’s Life in California, 1832-1852 because, at the time of the interview in the late 1920’s or early 30’s, Charles was the last of the Pioneer Angelinos living to have personally known Hugo Reid. Bryant titles one of the chapters in her book “The Land of Poco Tiempo” and tries to describe the idiomatic expression: “poco tiempo was an expression often used by those paisanos who were living a pastoral life in Alta California… Freely translated it meant “Too little time” – too little time today to do anything that can be done tomorrow.”

Predating Bryant’s 1939 work by 46 years is Charles Fletcher Lummis’ work, The Land of Poco Tiempo. At the time of writing, Lummis worked for Harrison Gray Otis as the City Editor at The Los Angeles Times. After suffering a stroke and mild paralysis, Lummis left the hustle and bustle of the city for New Mexico and became enamored by a vision of life while the Southwest was part of New Spain. On page 3 he states;

Here is the Land of Poco Tiempo – the home of “Pretty Soon.” Why hurry with the hurrying world? The “Pretty Soon” of New Spain is better than the “Now! Now!” of the haggard States. The opiate sun soothes to rest, the adobe is made to lean against, the hush of day-long noon would not be broken. Let us not hasten – manana will do. Better still, pasado manana.

As with most idiomatic translations, it is hard to put a finger on the exact meaning. To listen to the above descriptions alone one would think poco tiempo a synonym for “lazy.” It is not; the historical record notes the industry of the paisanos. Let’s just say there was no rubber stamp marked “Rush!” in the “Land of Poco Tiempo” post office. I found this expression inviting and intriguing. And, although the goal of my research was to bring a forgotten local hero back into the present for recognition, he reached out from the grave, through Susanna Dakin, and pulled me into “The Land of Poco Tiempo” with the words she recorded.

Carreta at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Fourteen of them . . . had made a midmorning start from Don Enrique’s [Los Angeles] townhouse [for Hugo Reid’s “Uva Espina” at San Gabriel].  They traveled in two carretas, and the oxen were leisurely in pace; so lunchtime overtook them not many miles from the center of town at Rosa de Castilla where there were shade trees and water.  They had a delicious bastamiento of fourteen squab chickens with old-time trimmings, followed by a siesta.  The sun had set before they reached San Gabriel.

Evening saw a merry company gathered under the Reid roof.  A rare feast was spread of old-time lavishness, including roast turkey, tortillas, enchiladas, dulces, fruit, and Hugo’s own wine. Presently, mission bells called everyone to prayers across the way; then home under the pepper trees to talk and sing Mexican love songs.  The timbre of Hugo’s flexible voice and tinkling of Felipe’s [Hugo’s son] guitar carried each tune over passages that were unfamiliar to the English guests.  Soon everyone was singing and dancing with complete lack of self consciousness . . . . . Next morning the Daltons all piled into their carretas and creaked on up the dusty road to their home by the cool green lake at Santa Anita.

I was hooked. I had to find this place called “Poco Tiempo.” And Don Carlos, as Charles Jenkins was known locally, had given me the first clue where to find it; “the cool green lake at Santa Anita.” 

Hugo Reid Adobe at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Courtesy

Arriving early one morning I made my way into the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia and made a bee line for where the map said the lake was. Rounding Lucky Baldwin’s Queen Anne “Guest House,” I finally came upon the site of Hugo Reid’s reconstructed adobe. No one else was there and fog still lay heavy on the ground making it easy to imagine the ghosts of the past. I looked into the bed chamber, which was once occupied by Hugo and Victoria, later by George and Elizabeth Dalton, then the Wolfskills and, finally, was also the location where Lucky Baldwin died in 1909. I was thrilled with whoever saw fit to preserve this site. Then I went to the lake to skip a stone and it happened. It was the same eerie feeling I have had come over me on some battlefields. That connect with the past, fleeting as a static spark, but undeniable as the goose bumps it produces upon the skin. “Hello Charles” I thought imagining him as that 10 year old in a strange land standing beside me and skipping stones; my stones sinking into the lake to join those skipped by Charles and every “kid at heart” that ever stood on that shore.

San Juan Bautista State Historic Park. Photo by Wayne Sherman.

It happened again a few years latter on a return trip from San Francisco. My wife and I stopped in San Juan Bautista for the night on a friend’s advice. Very early the next morning I made my way to the Plaza. Anyone who has ever been to San Juan Bautista can tell you what a wonderfully preserved piece of California’s past this state historic park is. The early morning mist, along with the free ranging chickens, made for a very pleasant experience on the deserted Plaza. However, it was on the unpaved piece of the original Calle Real, located on a terrace below the Mission, that I had my next brush up against the “Land of Poco Tiempo” when I turned a corner and before me was a simple sign painted on a peeling picket fence saying “norte.” Again with the goose bumps!

Santa Inés Mission Mills. Photo by Wayne Sherman.

Nowadays, as steward for the Santa Inés Mission Mills, it happens to me quite regularly. When I am cutting weeds I might hear the sound of running water behind me in the mill only to find it was the wind through the tall Eucalyptus on the hill. Another time, on one of those vapor-shrouded days, the only sound I could hear at the mill, while making rounds, was the choir at the Mission. It made me stop to listen for the creak of a carreta. “Carlos?”

As a resident of the Santa Ynez Valley I feel indebted to the membership and staff of The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation for having the vision to preserve this long-overlooked, local jewel from the “Land of Poco Tiempo.” I am also quite honored to have been chosen steward for such a historic piece of California’s unique past and stand ready to preserve it for “generations that know us not” that “the power of the vision pass into their souls” too.


Wayne Sherman is the steward for the Santa Inés Mission Mills.