SBTHP Hosts Dos Pueblos Concert Band at Casa de la Guerra for May 1st Thursday Event

On Thursday, May 2, 2019 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation partnered with Downtown Santa Barbara to welcome the Dos Pueblos High School (DPHS) Concert Band for a special 1st Thursday evening of live music under the stars in the Casa de la Guerra courtyard. The DPHS Concert Band includes high school students from various musical backgrounds, who learn a broad range of musical styles to enrich their musical repertoire. The DPHS Concert Band is under the direction of Mr. Dan Garske.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Paul Mori

The band played three dynamic sets and attracted 1st Thursday goers as well as many walking and driving by between 5-8pm. The broad-ranging set list included a mix of theme songs from Star Wars. This special, free 1st Thursday event began the band’s fundraising campaign to cover costs to send the students to perform at Carnegie Hall in spring 2020.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Paul Mori

Admission to the Casa de la Guerra museum was free during the program and the evening provided another opportunity for a special after hours showing of our temporary exhibit; The Anna S. C. Blake Manual Training School: The Remarkable Antecedent of UC Santa Barbara. The Blake exhibit was on loan from the UC Santa Barbara Library and displayed at Casa de la Guerra through May 31, 2019.

One of SBTHP’s core values is to provide a welcoming and accessible gathering place for Santa Barbarans and all who visit our community. Through our collaboration with Downtown Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos High School we were able to welcome many new faces to the Presidio Neighborhood. We look forward to partnering with the DPHS music programs again in the future.

Kevin McGarry is the Associate Director for Public Engagement at SBTHP.

Wool Artist Taiana Giefer Installs Tapestry Series at El Presidio SHP

Photo by Alan Kozlowski.

On May 11, artist Taiana Giefer installed a collection of hand-made wool tapestries throughout the grounds of El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.  Called Seed Study: Conception, the collection of felted wool pieces looked right at home among the adobe walls at El Presidio SHP.  Taiana installed the pieces in a manner that encouraged visitors to explore the park, so that around every turn and across every threshold they might encounter a surprise.

Photo by Lauren Ross.

We were pleased to partner with Taiana, and to make admission free to the park for the day to encourage attendance and exploration of these unique pieces.  Her project dovetailed perfectly with our organizational value to provide a welcoming and accessible gathering place for Santa Barbarans and all who visit our community.  It also tied in perfectly with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s strategic plan goal to support the Presidio Neighborhood’s growing role as a community hub. We learned to see our special historic spaces differently, through an artist’s eye, and were happy to welcome new visitors to park who came to see the project.

Photo by Lauren Ross.

We look forward to presenting more creative partnership projects in service of our mission. In all things, we are stronger when working together.



SBTHP Participates in CA State Parks Advocacy Day!

By Anne Petersen

California State Parks Foundation staff welcomes park advocates. Photo by Anne Petersen.

On May 7, 2019 Associate Director for Public Engagement Kevin McGarry and I attended Park Advocacy Day in Sacramento, which is sponsored annually by the California State Parks Foundation.  We arrived for a day of training with CASPF on May 6, which included a legislative update and a workshop on effective storytelling by the Department of Here.

New research findings about youth and parks. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

On Advocacy Day all 150 participants, most from nonprofits like the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation that support California State Parks, gathered for additional training before our legislative meetings.  Highlights of the morning included an address by Director of State Parks Lisa Mangat and a presentation from the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability about the value of California State Parks as a health intervention for young people.

Arriving at the State Capital. Phota by Anne Petersen.

Our small team for legislative meetings included Spencer Robbins, a graduate student with the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Julia Metzer, executive director of Clockshop, an arts nonprofit collaborating with State Parks on the Bowtie project along the Los Angeles River.  Tracy Verardo-Torres, our team leader, is an independent consultant specializing in park advocacy.

L-R, Spencer Robbins, Anne Petersen, Monique Limon, Kevin McGarry, Tracey Verardo-Torres, Julia Metzer.

Our team held five legislative meetings, with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, Assemblymember Monique Limón, Assemblymember Christy Smith and Assemblymember Richard Bloom. We encouraged each legislator to support pending park bills, including Limon and Carrillo’s bills supporting access to parks, as well as the need to protect the 5% of Proposition 68 funds that were earmarked for park access, which is under legal dispute.

We specifically discussed SBTHP’s programs at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park including CASA Camp, designed to provide invitation and access to nearby State Parks for Santa Barbara Housing Authority residents.  These programs align well with the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability‘s initial findings that the people most in need of access to parks often will not come, or feel welcome, on their own.  They are much more likely to attend and take advantage of the park resources, no matter how close the park is to their residence, through responding to targeted programming designed to serve them.

For SBTHP, this experience was invaluable in terms of both making sure our work is heard at the State Capital, meeting new colleagues which whom we have much in common, and being able to tie our work in with this statewide study, a confirmation that our programs are relevant, valued, and helping to serve those most in need. We look forward to attending again next year.

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

El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP’s Worldwide Reach!

by Laine Martens

Here in the Visitors Center at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, operated by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, we welcome thousands of people a year. In a recent survey of our visitors, we found that 34 counties and 23 States of the United States have been represented just between March and April 2019.

We often recognize El Presidio SHP as a community-based site with state-wide impact as a California State Historic Park. It is also important to recognize, however, that we have the honor of interpreting the site’s rich history on a global scale.  No matter where our visitors come from they are drawn to Santa Barbara’s unique beauty and rich history.  The site of El Presidio SHP has a long history of serving as home for diverse peoples from around the world, and we are pleased that it still serves a global community today.

Below is a list of States in the U.S. represented by visitors during this period.

Below is a list of countries represented by visitors during this period, ranked by most to least frequently represented.

El Presidio de Santa Bárbara’s State Historic Park Visitor Center and Gift Shop are open daily from 10:30am-4:30pm.

Laine Martens is the Visitor Services and Gift Shop Manager at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Possible Revitalization of De la Guerra Plaza, Share Your Voice!

by Anne Petersen

Anne Petersen spoke about the history of the Plaza during the opening remarks at the March 9 public workshop at Casa de la Guerra. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

The City of Santa Barbara recently announced intentions to explore a revitalization effort in De la Guerra Plaza.  The project could include changes to landscaping/hardscaping, lighting, parking and more.     As the owners and operators of Casa de la Guerra, which anchors the north side of the Plaza, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is an invested stakeholder in this process.  We hosted the City’s first public outreach workshop at Casa de la Guerra on March 9th, and at the March 26th City Council meeting SBTHP was added to the De la Guerra Plaza Subcommittee, which also includes City Council members, and Commissioners from Parks and Recreation, Planning, Historic Landmarks, and the Farmer’s Market Association.

The meetings of the Subcommittee will be public.  You can follow activity on the Plaza project by visiting the City’s webpage for De la Guerra Plaza here.  On this page, you can sign up for updates and click through to many helpful resources.

We encourage you to stay informed on this project and share your thoughts with the City.  This historic place was designated a public square in 1853, and belongs to the citizens of Santa Barbara. It’s our job to make sure that it continues to meet the needs of the citizens today.

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

The Anna S. C. Blake Manual Training School: The Remarkable Antecedent of UC Santa Barbara on Display at Casa de la Guerra through late May

by Kevin McGarry

In celebration of the opening of a special temporary exhibit on loan from the UC Santa Barbara Library, The Anna S. C. Blake Manual Training School: The Remarkable Antecedent of UC Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) offered the community two free educational programs in early March at Casa de la Guerra.

In 1892, Anna S. C. Blake opened a sloyd school at 814 Santa Barbara St. (near De la Guerra St.) on the site of what is today Anacapa School, located in El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Sloyd schools emphasized manual training and were closely linked to European folk art traditions and the Arts and Crafts movement. Renamed the Anna Blake Manual Training School after Blake’s death in 1899, the school remained grounded in the Progressive-era belief that all students should have access to a holistic education emphasizing both intellectual and practical knowledge in order to develop educated citizens.

Visitors gather in the exhibit gallery during First Thursday. Photo by Anne Petersen.

The exhibition focuses on the school’s early years and explores how Santa Barbara reformers thought about the intersection of education, the manual arts, and social mobility in the 1890s, and the implications of those beliefs on higher education today. All exhibit photos are from UCSB Library’s University Archives Photographs collection.

The exhibit opening during March 1st Thursday. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Our first opening event for the exhibition was a free 1st Thursday program (co-sponsored by Downtown Santa Barbara) on March 7th, from 5:00 to 8:00pm. Guests were welcomed in the Casa courtyard by SBTHP staff and volunteers and enjoyed free refreshments and some of the beautiful music of early California performed by local guitarist and vocalist Luis Moreno. Many visitors also had the opportunity to meet and learn from the scholars who researched the history of the School and curated the special exhibition, Dr. Sarah Case (Managing Editor, The Public Historian, and Continuing Lecturer at UCSB) and Nora Kassner (graduate student in History at UCSB).

Sarah Case presents the history of the Anna Blake School. Photo by Anne Petersen.

On Sunday, March 10th at 2:00pm SBTHP staff and UCSB History Associates organized a special lecture by Dr. Sara Case and Nora Kassner at Casa de la Guerra. Approximately 25 people attended the lecture and learned about the history of the Anna S. C. Blake Manual Training School. The lecture was followed by a reception and an exhibit showing.

Nora Kassner presents profiles of some of the Blake School students. Photo by Anne Petersen.

To learn more about the history of the Anna S. C. Blake School and its important ties to the Presidio Neighborhood and to UC Santa Barbara read Sara and Nora’s piece in our Winter 2019 issue of La Campana (available for sale for $5 at our Presidio or Casa de la Guerra gift shops) and/or come visit Casa de la Guerra before the end of May to see the exhibit in person!

Kevin McGarry is the associate director for public engagement at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

The Braille Institute Visits El Presidio SHP!

Valerie answering questions after visitors watched the introductory video in the Northwestern corner of the Presidio. Photo by Danny Tsai.

On Feb 25th, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) welcomed 7 students and 4 volunteers from the Braille Institute for a tour of the Presidio grounds. These adults have varying degrees of vision loss so SBTHP’s docent, Valerie, and I worked together to find ways to diversify our standard tour. Each group that comes on site requires special consideration on behalf of our docents to ensure that visitors are walking away with an equal experience of a tour that is both fun and informational.

The group gathered around outside to talk right in front of the second defense wall on a beautiful sunny day. Photo by Danny Tsai.

This tour started like any other one with a big welcome and brief overview of ourselves and the birthplace of Santa Barbara. Valerie then led the group to the Northwestern wing to listen to our introductory video, build some context, and answer any additional questions. Valerie then brought the group outside to the second defense wall to discuss Spanish colonialism along with ongoing archeological efforts.

Braille Institute students explore the chapel on their own after given some history. Photo by Danny Tsai.

We then transitioned to the chapel where students had a chance to explore a little bit on their own after given some background information, including fascinating tidbits about the invaluable painting of Saint Barbara that is hanging on the chapel wall. Next, we went to an interactive station that Valerie and I prepared in advance that had all sorts of objects that students could touch and feel. Some of the objects included the Presidio A5 branding iron, adobe bricks, clay tiles, and a Spanish adarga, or leather shield.

The tour ended in the Comandancia where Valerie specially prepared a talk on traditional food and how it was prepared. Valerie even brought some champurrado and hominy for everyone to taste. Photo by Danny Tsai.

Our last stop was in the Comandancia where everyone gathered at the big dining room table and got to smell, feel, and learn about the different types of cooking ingredients that the soldiers and their families would have used at that time. Valerie was so thoughtful that she took it one step further and brought traditional champurrado and hominy for everyone to taste. We spent the rest of the time in the comandancia’s dining room chatting about Presidio life and segued into talking about Pearl Chase and the more contemporary history of the Presidio neighborhood.

We prepared a hands-on table for the students to interact with some objects that would have been used during the Presidio time period. Photo by Danny Tsai.

Overall, I believe Valerie’s unique tour showcases the creativity and flexibility our docents have to have in order to ensure that a tour is both educational and memorable. We hope to activate our visitor’s curiosity and develop a connection with this historic site so that they will be interested in coming back. Furthermore, one of SBTHP’s value statements is to strive to be more inclusive and accessible for all of those who visit the Presidio. We are thankful to Brianna and her students from the Braille Institute for visiting and we look forward to their welcoming their next group soon. If you are interested in undergoing training to become one of our volunteer docents, please click here!

Danny Tsai is the director of programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

SBTHP Co-Sponsors Chinese New Year with the SB Public Library!

by Danny Tsai


Danny at the welcome table with a breakdown of all the different stations for guests to explore. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

The Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation  (SBTHP) broke new ground with a co-sponsored event to commemorate this year’s Chinese New Year, which began on February 5th. The outcome of this partnership was a free public event that took place in the Faulkner Gallery at the Central Library. Chinese New Year, also referred to as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is renowned as today’s largest annual human migration in the world with over three billion trips expected to be made during the entire season. 2019 is the “Year of the Pig” and people with this zodiac symbol are characterized as realistic, energetic, and hard working. To learn more about the Pig Chinese Zodiac, you can click here1.

Kathi Brewster sharing the lesser-known history of Santa Barbara’s local Chinatown to visitors. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

We welcomed over 100 visitors to a lively atmosphere filled with candy, music, cheerful laughter, and the sound of Mahjong tiles being shuffled. Volunteers educated visitors about the Santa Barbara’s Old and New Chinatown, the Chinese Zodiac (and the Year of the Pig), Chinese geography, and Mahjong. Other stations focused on teaching people how to use chopsticks, fold dumplings, write calligraphy, and create dragon puppets.

A girl making a dragon puppet at one of the arts and crafts tables. Photo by Chi Tsai.

One of our most dedicated volunteers, Kathi Brewster, did an outstanding job speaking with guests about the history of the once prominent Chinatown on East Canon Perdido St. She was equipped with captivating photos and stories to share. SBTHP also had a display up in the main hall of the Public Library for the month of February, which showcased photographs and artifacts from the Chinatown that existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Danny Tsai is the director of programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

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