Category Archives: What’s happening in the Presidio Neighborhood?

A Sneak Peek of our new Exhibit at the Pickle Room

Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, the last Chinese family-owned and operated business in Santa Barbara’s Chinatown, was a longtime favorite for locals and tourists alike before closing its doors in 2006 with the retirement of operator Tommy Chung. Opened in 1947 by Tommy’s father, Jimmy Yee Chung, Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens had been an important part of the diverse community of people who have lived and worked within the Presidio Neighborhood. In March of 2007, SBTHP purchased Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens from the Chung family. Shortly thereafter the building was purchased by the State of California, becoming a part of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park and a historic resource that will be preserved and protected in perpetuity.

The installation of new exhibit panels inside the Pickle Room. Photo by Tim Aceves.

Following the acquisition of Jimmy’s, SBTHP formed a community advisory committee to help guide us in a series of programs related to Santa Barbara’s Asian American history. The group helped SBTHP begin an oral history project focusing on Chinese and Japanese Americans in Santa Barbara. In addition, through its interpretive planning process, the organization developed a concept for a permanent exhibit inside the historic Jimmy’s building, now home to our tenants Three Pickles Deli and The Pickle Room, owned and operated by Clay Lovejoy and family.

Installers work on the new exhibit panels inside the Pickle Room. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

Our new display includes a life-size photo mural of Jimmy Chung and his son Bill serving drinks to local patrons at the bar, as well as multiple oral history quotes and photos that help tell the story of the Chung family and the life they created in Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood. The display includes original artifacts from Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, as well.

Jimmy’s Oriental Garden panels being installed inside the Pickle Room. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

The display is dedicated in memory of Thomas Yee Chung and Robert Harry Lovejoy for their efforts to preserve and restore Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, an icon of Santa Barbara’s Chinese-American Community. Special thanks to UCSB graduate student Mika Thornburg, Demachkie Design, SBTHP’s dedicated volunteers, our partners at California State Parks and all community donors that made this special project possible.

SBTHP Receives Grant from National Endowment for the Humanities

Just recently, The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of NEH CARES. $40.3 million in grants were awarded to more than 300 cultural institutions across all 50 states and the District of Columbia to support essential services, staff, and programs. 

“Over the past few months we have witnessed tremendous financial distress at cultural organizations across the country, which have been compelled to furlough staff, cancel programs, and reduce operations to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “NEH is pleased to provide $40 million to preserve thousands of jobs at museums, archives, historic sites, and colleges and universities that are vital to our nation’s cultural life and economy.” 

SBTHP’s $29,634 grant will fund the second iteration of the new, annual school program, Where We Are From (WWAF). In partnership with Santa Barbara Junior High School  and UC Santa Barbara‘s History Department, WWAF is a multi-week, cross-disciplinary, interactive program held at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park that reaches approximately 400 seventh-grade students and their families. The program involves hands-on, multimedia and digital learning activities utilizing the Park’s historical resources and digital learning platforms. The grant will also provide SBTHP with the opportunity to hire four graduate students from UC Santa Barbara’s History Department as project consultants and co-facilitators.  

“The knowledge and practice of history is vital to sustaining healthy individuals and communities,” said SBTHP Associate Director of Public Engagement Kevin McGarry. “Where We Are From is the programmatic embodiment of SBTHP’s institutional mission and values. The project highlights and promotes the diversity of Santa Barbara, especially the layered, cultural history of the Presidio Neighborhood. Where We Are From is a student-centered educational experience designed to deepen the connection the participating seventh graders have to their own family stories, as well as our collective past as a multi-cultural community. The hope is that the program will inspire the students to make that first step toward a deeper commitment to shaping a better future for us all. Thank you NEH for recognizing SBTHP and our partners’ commitment to this important goal.” 

Students gather at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park to participate in “Where We Are From” last year.

As SBJHS history teacher Kristin Martinez-Pettit explained, the goal of this program is to “build a sense of community amongst the students as well as stoke their interest in the human story while cultivating their own.” SBJHS’s Principal, Lito M. García, says that the positive effects the program on his students has revealed the “importance of collaborating with a local organization to enhance our students’ understanding of their city, their home.” The NEH CARES grant will also allow SBTHP to adapt the program for new modes of learning designed for remote access. Mr. Garcia explains, “As we have entered new ways of educating our youth beyond the school site the need for access to digital platforms and devices is greater than ever. Where We Are From must continue for several reasons. One, the educational value of research, reading, writing, and speaking. Two, the intrinsic value of knowing more about the community you live in. Three, the need to have access to and the ability to learn remotely.”

Students participate in “Where We Are From.”

For the highly competitive NEH CARES grant category, NEH received more than 2,300 eligible applications from cultural organizations requesting more than $370 million in funding for projects between June and December 2020. Approximately 14 percent of the applicants were funded. 

To learn more about NEH, click here >>

To learn more about SBTHP’s educational programs, click here >>

Replacing the Presidio Chapel Doors

by Michael H. Imwalle

The project to lovingly restore the Santa Barbara Presidio Chapel doors is complete. The process entailed the fabrication of new doors, mounted on new pivot hinges on a new threshold, and the restoration of the existing lock hardware. In November 2019, recently-elected SBTHP Board member Joe Handerhan and his team from Channel Coast Corporation began the project by measuring and drawing the existing doors, hardware, and molding profiles to create shop drawings to manufacture the replacement doors.

Once the 1985 doors were documented, carpenter Teo Ellinwood began ripping and planing lumber to assemble the door panels. The door frames were fit together using mortise and tenon joinery. The molding profiles of the old doors were used to cut custom router blades so that the raised detail of the door panels were a perfect match! More than sixty eight-inch-long hand-forged nails made by Santa Barbara Forge were used to fasten the door panels to the frames. With the door panels finished it was time to start the installation. Each nail had to be driven through a pre-drilled pilot hole, heated with a torch, bent over at the tip, heated with a torch again, then bent over the back of the frame.

The new doors were delivered to the site and sandblast to raise the grain of the wood to match the weathered wood surrounding the entrance to the chapel. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

In order to install the new doors, the existing threshold needed to
be replaced so that new pivot hinges could be installed. The original threshold was rotting and could no longer support the weight of the doors, each weighing more than one hundred and fifty pounds. Once the threshold was replaced, the new doors were delivered to the site and sandblasted to raise the grain in the wood to match the weathered wood surrounding the entrance to the chapel. Juan Ramirez arrived onsite to help Teo fit the new doors onto the new pivot hinges and to help remove the original hardware from the old doors.

It was a delicate dance replacing the threshold and the doors, all the while leaving the chapel open to visitors and being able to lock it securely each evening. Once the new doors were hung, painter Luis Castro (the stain master) began applying a custom stain to the new doors. The stain is made by adding ground iron oxide pigment to a mixture of turpentine and linseed oil. Luis has been mixing this special stain for projects at El Presidio SHP for more than ten years.

New doors are ready to receive the original hardware. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

With the doors mounted and stained, it was then time to install the original lock hardware. On February 10, 2020 the new lock hardware was installed using custom hand-forged nails made by horseshoer Larry Sell of Sierra Forge Farrier Service. That afternoon the new chapel doors were locked with the original hardware for the first time. SBTHP and California State Parks are extremely grateful to the John and Beverly Stauffer Foundation and all the individual contributions that made this project possible. Hopefully these doors will welcome celebrations of life, marriage, and community for many generations to come.

The finished Presidio Chapel doors. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

Michael H. Imwalle is the Associate Executive Director for Cultural Resources at SBTHP.

A Sneak Peak inside the 1871 Cota-Knox House at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park

by Anne Petersen
The Cota-Knox House, present day. Photo by Tim Aceves.

In November 2019, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) invited friends and partners for an insider tour of the 1871 Cota-Knox House. This City Landmark is SBTHP’s next restoration project, and our work will ensure that the building is not only restored to its original appearance, but also receives seismic and accessibility upgrades that will bring it into compliance with current needs.

Anne Petersen, speaking from the porch of the Cota-Knox House, introduces the restoration project to guests before their tour. Photo by Tim Aceves.

We made the interior of the building available to the attendees at our event so they could appreciate some of the special details in the sala. Inside, historians Mary Louise Days and Fermina Murray and SBTHP Associate Executive Director Michael Imwalle shared the architectural and social history of the building, as well as a display of medical artifacts from Dr. Knox’s practice, which were excavated on site.

Historians Mary Louise Days and Fermina Murray speak to guests inside the sala of the Cota-Knox House. Photo by Tim Aceves.

Architect Anthony Grumbine, Structural Engineer Jeff Haight, and Contractor Joe Handerhan led tours of the exterior. The team of building experts helped the guests understand the challenges of restoring historic buildings, including how to treat the delicate aging mortar between bricks, and the scarcity of similar materials to replace the originals. 

Architect Anthony Grumbine, Structural Engineer Jeff Haight, and Contractor Joe Handerhan discuss the facade improvements with guests as part of the restoration of the Cota-Knox House. Photo by Tim Aceves.

In addition to the process of the upcoming restoration work and the history of the building, we focused on the significance of this project to El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, the downtown and the wider community.  Restoration of this small brick home matters, for a surprising number of reasons:

  • It helps us tell the story of Santa Barbara’s somewhat destructive transition from a pueblo to an American town. María Olivera Cota’s Adobe home was demolished when Salisbury Haley’s new street grid was implemented, and her new house was built by her son-in-law José Lobero, across the street from his theatre.
Exposed red brick and deteriorating paint on the exterior of the Cota-Knox House (present-day). Photo by Tim Aceves.
  • It helps us interpret the medical history of our community. After María Cota’s death, the house was occupied by of of Santa Barbara’s first surgeons, a Civil War veteran from Philadelphia, who made significant modifications to the building
Glass vessels from excavations near the Cota-Knox House. Photo by Ashley Tammietti Aceves.
  • It is an unusual piece of vernacular architecture, with an early 19th-century symmetrical façade combined with later-period Victorian elements.
  • This small building is also a City Landmark, and a historic resource in El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. It is surrounded by other City Landmarks and is the last landmark on the block to receive the care and attention it deserves. In a time when our community is focusing on the revitalization of our downtown, the restoration of this landmark, as artist Thomas Van Stein said, “will have a big impact in the Neighborhood.”
The restored Cota-Knox House, by Thomas Van Stein.
  • This building is also important because of its use today. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has produced research studies that show that smaller, older buildings in cities like ours often serve as incubators for local and innovative small businesses and innovation. And the Cota-Knox House is evidence of that. Tenants Eric Watts and Betsy Cramer (representing the Citizens Planning Association) attended the event and graciously allowed us access to the building.
  • And it matters because our historic buildings ground us. As Professor of Historic Preservation Tom Mayes has argued, historic buildings help us define who we are through “memory, continuity, and identity,” and remind us about what makes our community special. 

We hope you too will get involved in the campaign to restore the Cota-Knox House.  For more information about the project and how you can help, click here.

Anne Petersen is the Executive Director at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Exploring Historic Planning and Architecture to Inform the Future

By Anthony Grumbine and Nicole Hernandez

On June 7, 2019 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, Harrison Design, the City of Santa Barbara and Downtown Santa Barbara co-hosted a timely symposium titled, “Santa Barbara: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” The Symposium provided a space for informed dialogue about the future of Santa Barbara’s urban development including the challenges and opportunities our community faces as we consider the best path forward.

Anthony Grumbine is a principal architect at Harrison Design, and specializes in the architecture of Santa Barbara. He is the current Chair of the City of Santa Barbara’s Historic Landmarks Commission, and serves on the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s Board of Directors. Nicole Hernandez has a Masters of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation and is the City of Santa Barbara’s Urban Historian.  She worked as Architectural Historian for five years at Historic Denver, Inc. and four years for the City of New Orleans before coming to join the City of Santa Barbara in 2012. The following article was published in La Campana, Fall 2019. This is the second blog feature on “Santa Barbara: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” read the first one here.

As a classical architect and architectural historian, Anthony and Nicole see the buildings right in front of us, on our beautiful Santa Barbara streetscapes, as excellent prototypes for successful design of new buildings that can provide the growth the City needs while maintaining the beauty and vision of Santa Barbara’s early planners. The examples start with the planning of whole blocks in the downtown core along State Street and then are more specific with individual case studies of successful historic high to low density buildings.  Between 1923 and 1925 George Washington Smith, other local noted architects of Santa Barbara, the Community Drafting Room and the Allied Architectural Association of Los Angeles demonstrated, through a public exhibition of drawings, how individual blocks of State Street could be reconstructed within the unifying Spanish Colonial Revival style.1 UCSB provided the digital version of these original drawings that show the massing, details and rhythms that was envisioned for State Street.  Anthony converted the drawings into three dimensional, birds eye views of entire blocks, illustrating that if new construction utilizes the early plans, the underdeveloped portions of the downtown core can be filled with compatible architectural language, fulfilling the early vision of the city planners.  Santa Barbara has a wonderful range of architecture constructed in the early 20th Century. The large buildings in the downtown core along State Street can support high density housing, while small developments in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown support lower density housing.  We will feature excellent examples that provide a footprint for future construction while providing subtle details and patterns that allow buildings to fit into the beauty of existing streetscapes.

Drawing Exhibition 1923-1926 by Allied Architects. Courtesy of UCSB Art, Design, & Architecture Museum.
Inspiring State Street, Drawing Exhibition

Immediately after World War I, Santa Barbara began a concerted effort to recreate its visual image from a typical Victorian American town, to a Mediterranean/ Spanish Colonial Revival style town, merging the Spanish and Mexican past.  In 1915, the City of Santa Barbara commissioned Bertram G. Goodhue to plan an entire commercial streetscape in the Spanish Colonial/Mediterranean style. He planned a city street that did not follow ordinary commercial lines, but included what he called “Spanish Improvements”, the buildings were set back off the street line and featured patios, corridors, and covered walkways. Goodhue’s scheme for an entire street was presented to the City via a public exhibition of architectural drawings and models.   The digital renderings of the Drawing Exhibition provided by UCSB Architecture and Design Collection demonstrate round arches and covered arcades along downtown storefronts that contrast with the rectangular openings in the upper stories and create an interplay of cubic volumes, patios, pergolas, towers and verandas.

State Street Façade Development sketches, Unknown, 1923-1925. Drawings courtesy of UCSB Art, Design, & Architecture Museum.

The George Washington Smith sketch of the 900 Block of State Street (Fig. 1, below) illustrates two and three story buildings.  The three-dimensional, birds-eye view drawing (Fig. 2, below) illustrates what the entire block would look like if it had been developed consistently with Smith’s State Street vision. Santa Barbara could have more density in the downtown core using the same style and design techniques.  An aerial of the existing condition of the entire block (below) shows the potential for larger development with one story buildings and parking lots rather than larger buildings creating a more visually enticing core.

Fig. 1: typical Santa Barbara Block, George Washington Smith, 1923. Courtesy of UCSB Art, Design, & Architecture Museum.
Fig. 2: view of hypothetical block based on George Washington Smith’s proposed elevation drawings for the 900 block of State Street. Drawing by Anthony Grumbine.
Successful Historic Buildings, Models for the Future
Margaret Baylor Inn/Lobero Building
Guarding over the streetscape of 924 Anacapa Street, Julia Morgan’s four-story building is sixty-four feet high, yet seamlessly blends with the downtown core. Photo by Nicole Hernandez.

Julia Morgan, one of the most important architects of her time, designed the Margaret Baylor Inn built in 1926-27.   Julia Morgan’s training in the Beaux Arts style gives the Margaret Baylor Inn formality and symmetry excellently translated to the Italian Mediterranean style.  Spanish Colonial Revival details and materials adorn her classical-style building which has rounded arches on the street contrasted with the square openings above. Spanish Colonial Revival-inspired ironwork on the front elevation has a complex interplay between the curvilinear and rectangular.  The four story building has an undulating ‘h’ shape to allow for a large courtyard on the south end, and small courtyards on the north and east that provide open space and light and air into the interior units.  The loggia across the fourth floor is another opportunity for outdoor space for the units on the upper floors.  Contrasting to the smooth stucco walls, are beautifully carved capitals on the top of the loggia columns.

The Margaret Baylor Inn is an example of a high density hotel, while still maintaining a beautiful Santa Barbara feel. This was done by creating inner courtyards filled with light, air, and charm. Drawing by Anthony Grumbine.
The Elks Building
Hugging the corner of State Street and Figueroa Street, the Elks Building has delicate grills and rhythmic arches and windows contrasting to the smooth, stucco walls. Photo by Nicole Hernandez.

Designed in 1926 by Parkinson and Parkinson the Elks building is a four-story building that is 83 feet high.  The interplay of volumes, characteristic of the Spanish Colonial Revival style, breaks the building’s mass so it does not overwhelm State Street. Tucked under the steep gables, the fourth story opens onto a rooftop courtyard hidden by the parapets of the third floor, providing open space for the building.  In addition, the loggia on the third floor on State Street provides another opportunity for open space similar to the Margaret Baylor Inn/Lobero Building.  The rounded arch arcade on the first floor contrasting to the rectilinear windows and loggia above mimics the plans from the 1920s Drawing Exhibition.

Although its roof is around sixty-five feet tall, the tallest massing is well laid-out in an “L” shape, so that the majority of the building fronting the street is open and three-story. Drawing by Anthony Grumbine.
Monte Plaza Vista
The arch on the streetscape of this building at 1400 Garden Street allows the entrance to interact with the streetscape while leading the eye through to the inner courtyard. Photo by Nicole Hernandez.

Moving away from the downtown core of Santa Barbara, the size and density of buildings is smaller. Constructed in 1936, this two story apartment building has fourteen units. The large, central arch on the façade leads into a central courtyard with a second-story, wood balcony creating a beautiful garden space for the tenants.  The steel divide light casement windows add depth to the smooth plaster walls.  There is an interplay with the arch opening and three arches over the opening contrasting to the rectangular windows and the wide eaves with simple brackets topped with terra-cotta roof tiles. The symmetry of the windows carry the rhythm throughout the building.

Shaped around a square courtyard, this building type references the Spanish hacienda, and provides a high level of density within a two-story structure. Drawing by Anthony Grumbine.
Alameda Court
The bungalow court features an interplay of rounded arch windows and flat-top doors with intricate patterns in the glass. Photo by Nicole Hernandez.

Only a few bungalow courts still dot Santa Barbara neighborhoods surrounding the central core of the City. Constructed in 1916, this low-density housing type has twelve one-story bungalows. Each features a uniquely treated parapet to catch the eye as they lead to the two-story bungalow at the rear. Intricate window and door patterns adorn the smooth stucco walls.  Born in Pasadena, California in 1909, bungalow courts provided a unique form of multi-family housing in Southern California through the 1930s. The homes in bungalow courts were generally small, low-rise houses in the spirit of bungalows designed in a variety of architectural styles, including Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival. Bungalow courts integrated their courtyards with the homes, providing green space, ambiance and quality of living that is rare to find in rental housing units marketed to people who wanted the amenities of a single-family home without its high cost.

Built with an incredible amount of efficiency, frugality, and charm, the Bungalow Courts provide an example of the smallest housing types. Drawing by Anthony Grumbine.

As the early State Street renderings and the individual historic buildings illustrate, outstanding examples of architecture are right on Santa Barbara’s streetscapes that can serve as templates for new housing. From a whole block in the downtown core of the City to the bungalow court, the examples illustrate a successful interplay of volumes. The buildings do not overwhelm the street or neighbors but can accommodate a high number of units. All the renderings and examples provide unique design solutions providing loggias, courtyards, open space, light, and air for the units. The consistently rounded arch of the first floors contrasting to the symmetry of the rectilinear windows creates a rhythm that draws the eye to the buildings and gives them a sense of classic proportion. Details like simple brackets under an eave or a decorative window pane provide the buildings with artistry and allow for creativity that also provides a draw for the eye.

Notes

1. Mary Louise Days, Christopher H. Nelson, Ph.D., Rebecca Conrad, Ph.D. and Richard E. Oglesby, Ph.D., Santa Barbara ~ A Guide to El Pueblo Viejo (Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Conservancy, 2016).

2019 United Way Day of Caring

by Michael H. Imwalle
Koji Tanaka and volunteers from the Santa Barbara School of Squash working around the Presidio Research Center. Photo by Chris Ervin.

Saturday September 14th SBTHP staff hosted the United Way Day of Caring volunteers at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Vallin, Executive Director Anne Petersen, Librarian Chris Ervin and I supervised approximately 32 volunteers doing numerous projects around the park. This year volunteers included several families, staff from Exxon/Mobil, and the Santa Barbara School of Squash. Eduardo supervised a group that whitewashed the Northwest Corner Defense Wall, tilled the soil beneath the Cañedo Orchard fruit trees, and cleaned and waxed the statue of King Carlos.

Santa Barbara School of Squash volunteers whitewashing the outer defense wall. Photo courtesy of United Way Santa Barbara.

Anne directed a group of volunteers that took on the daunting task of cleaning and organizing of the Old Research Center library space. Chris oversaw the cleanup of the Presidio Research Center landscaping. Trees and shrubs were pruned all the way around the building to provide space for the HVAC equipment and to expose existing signage. I worked with a group of volunteers from Exxon/Mobil to complete the annual maintenance of our garden areas. Volunteers weeded, tilled, hauled mulch, pruned, and planted in the Presidio Heritage Gardens at the Northwest and Northeast Corners.

Santa Barbara School of Squash volunteers helping with the annual cleaning and waxing of the King Carlos III statue. Photo courtesy of United Way Santa Barbara.

Thanks to the help of the generous United Way Day of Caring volunteers, SBTHP was able to accomplish critical maintenance projects to prepare the site for winter. We look forward to continuing this successful partnership between SBTHP and the United Way Santa Barbara volunteer community again next year.

Volunteers from Exxon/Mobil working in the gardens behind the Northwest Corner Visitor’s Center. Photo courtesy of United Way Santa Barbara.
Volunteers from Exxon/Mobil working in the Presidio Heritage Gardens at the Northeast Corner of the Presidio. Photo courtesy of United Way Santa Barbara.

Imagining a new life for the Cota-Knox House

by Anne Petersen

In Spring of 2019 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation contacted our friend Thomas Van Stein, a talented painter and member of the renowned Oak Group of Santa Barbara landscape artists, with a very special request.   We are wrapping up the planning phase for the restoration of the 1871 Cota-Knox House at 914 Anacapa Street, one of Santa Barbara’s earliest brick buildings.  As the work progressed, many of us commented that it would really help the community understand the impact of this project if we could show them what the restored building would look like.

Cota-Knox House today. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

Thanks to our generous partners at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum we have access to many wonderful historic images of the building.  Our restoration seeks to be accurate to these images, and evoke the original appearance of the building, yet historic photographs are often black and white, sometimes grainy, and convey a time long-lost to memory.

Cota-Knox House before 1896. Courtesy of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

At SBTHP we frequently discuss the idea that although we are champions of preservation, we don’t believe that the goal of our work is to retreat to the past. Rather, we are always thinking about the future, and believe that historic buildings contribute to the character of any thriving city.  We work to restore the unique vernacular buildings in the Presidio Neighborhood so we can return them to a useful productive life as community assets.  And that is hard to capture in an architectural plan or historic photograph. 

Thomas Van Stein with Anne Petersen at the Cota-Knox House. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

At an event in Fall 2018, Thomas approached me and offered to help the community imagine what this diminutive and dramatically altered building could offer Santa Barbara’s downtown through a painting that captured the restored building in its modern setting. In the Spring of 2019 we were thrilled to learn that we received the President’s Award from Colonial Dames of America, which provided the funding for the painting. We had also recently completed a level of planning that allowed us to provide detailed information to Thomas about the restoration. Thomas spent the next three months studying the plans and historic photographs. He presented a preliminary sketch in a meeting with Associate Executive Director Michael Imwalle and myself that knocked our socks off.  You can see the results of that careful study in the final painting.  He got the detail of the brick work on the façade, and the casement windows and shutters just right!  And, the building is full of color and life, with Dr. Knox’s 1890s unicycle replaced with a contemporary cyclist perusing the curbside interpretive sign. 

The restored Cota-Knox House, by Thomas Van Stein.

We know the restoration of the Cota-Knox House will have a transformative impact on this block of Anacapa Street.  This City Landmark shares the block with the beautiful Julia-Morgan designed Margaret Baylor Inn, and the Carrillo Recreation Center, both also City Landmarks.  It sits across Anacapa Street from the Lobero Theatre, and on the next block from the Reginald Johnson-designed U.S. Post Office, both on the National Register of Historic Places.   With the restoration complete, the Cota-Knox House will add the final piece to this historic streetscape, and because of Thomas’s amazing artistry, we can help the community imagine its impact. As Thomas said when we visited the site with the painting in hand, “This is project going to make a real difference in the neighborhood!”

This $1,300,000 project will take the help of a diverse range of friends and supporters.  Would you like to follow the restoration of the Cota-Knox House and support our efforts?  Visit our webpage about the project here.  We will keep this page updated as the project progresses.

Anne Petersen is the executive director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

SBTHP to Welcome Santa Barbara Junior High School 7th Graders

The History and Relevancy Project is a collaborative effort by California State Parks, UC Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) to bring specialized educational programming exploring the universal themes of migration and immigration to CA State Historic Parks. As a part of this pilot project, we plan to offer a customized field trip to all of Santa Barbara Junior High School’s 400 seventh graders on September 26 and 27, 2019 at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. In preparation, we invited two of SBJHS’s seventh grade teachers for a tour of the Presidio in early August. Here is seventh grade history teacher Kristin Martinez-Pettit’s reflection on the process thus far:

SBJHS 7th grade teachers Kristin Martinez-Pettit (left) and Nicole Neimroozi (right) along with SBTHP’s Director of Programs Danny Tsai during a tour of the Presidio. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

All students should know that their story is relevant and part of Santa Barbara’s history. Through a series of meetings with representatives of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, UC Santa Barbara and CA State Parks, seventh grade English and Social Studies teachers at SBJHS, with the help of our teacher librarian and community liaison, are planning and facilitating a project to help students connect their stories to the city of Santa Barbara. The project will include class visits from CA State Parks and UCSB staff and a field trip for all of our seventh graders to visit the El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park in late September, organized by the SBTHP Programs Department. Our goal through this project is to build a sense of community amongst our students as well as stoke their interest in the human story while cultivating their own.

“Our goal through this project is to build a sense of community amongst our students as well as stoke their interest in the human story while cultivating their own.

In preparation for our trip, we met with SBTHP representatives, educators, and teachers to create the best learning experience for our students. After a series of meetings and our preview of the Presidio grounds and planned activities, teachers began planning the logistics of the trip. Every preparation meeting for our planned field trip has been insightful, informative, and helpful as we attempt to merge the history of Santa Barbara with learning in the classroom.

SBJHS 7th grade teachers Kristin Martinez-Pettit (center) and Nicole Neimroozi (left) with SBTHP’s Associate Director for Public Engagement Kevin McGarry (right) and UCSB History Professor and SBTHP Board Member, Dr. Randy Bergstrom.

Written by Kevin McGarry