Help Us Restore the Presidio Chapel Doors

When was the last time you walked through the large wooden doors of the Chapel at El Presidio Santa Bárbara State Historic Park?

Founding Day, 2017. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

It was likely for an occasion that has fixed in your memory. One spent celebrating one of life’s important rituals, perhaps a beautiful wedding ceremony with your loved ones, or to participate in the joyful sounds of a concert. Dating back to the late-18th century, the Presidio Chapel served as a central meeting place and place of worship for the first European settlers of Santa Barbara.

Chapel construction, 1986.

The doors are an iconic feature of El Presidio SHP, but after 34 years of use the doors are in need of major repairs due to the deterioration of the wood. More recently, one door has had to be propped up with modern hardware just to keep it up in place – illustrating the need for a permanent solution.

Las Posadas, 2019. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

With your help, we can fund fabrication of two new custom-milled doors, hand-forged nails and door hardware, and the re-installation of the existing hand-forged lock. The total cost to replace the doors and hardware is $15,000 and we hope to complete the project this year.

Asian American Neighborhood Festival, 2016. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

Please consider a donation to restore the entrance doors to the Presidio Chapel so that Santa Barbarans, Californians, and visitors from all over the world can continue to enjoy this special place.

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Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight, 2014. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

Japanese Film Crew Charts the Course of 19th Century Boatman at El Presidio SHP

By Anne Petersen

On June 8, 2019 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) hosted a Japanese film crew from NHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. The crew is making a documentary film about Jukichi Oguri, a Japanese boatman who was lost at sea for 484 days before being picked up by the British ship Forester and brought to Rancho Refugio to convalesce. Oguri’s drift, according to the filmmakers, remains the longest in history to be survived. You can read more about this incredible story here

NHK film crew members, including Production Coordinator Michi Murayama (front left);  Director Yasuyuki Kuwata (third from the right); Actor Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (second from the right); with Debby Aceves (center) and Anne Petersen (far right).  Photo courtesy SBTHP.

The filmmakers brought in Japanese actor Hiroyuki Ikeuchi to narrate the film and help the audience imagine Oguri’s experiences. We met the crew in the Presidio Research Center for an interview with Executive Director Anne Petersen about life in the Santa Barbara area around 1815.  The team asked questions about the Spanish colonization of California, restrictions on trade and foreign vessels, and Rancho Refugio.

After the historical interview, the crew met with SBTHP Board President Debby Aceves, a descendant of José Francisco Ortega, first comandante of El Presidio de Santa Barbara and the founding owner of Rancho Refugio. During Oguri’s visit, José Francisco’s son José María Ortega was likely in residence and in control, as José Francisco died in 1798. Aceves and Ikeuchi had an informative conversation during which Aceves showed the actor her genealogy chart, and her descent from Ortega. She described the ranching economy that supported the Ortega family and others during the mid-nineteenth century. At the end of their conversation, Ikeuchi noted that it is interesting that Jukicki found Ortega 200 years ago, and now here he was talking with a descendant today, also in Santa Barbara. Aceves remarked that even though he and his crew today live an ocean away, maybe we aren’t really all that far apart because they were able to find connection today through this amazing story.

Debby Aceves show the crew her genealogy chart, tracing her family back many generations to José Francisco Ortega. Photo by Anne Petersen.

At SBTHP we believe that the knowledge and practice of history is vital to sustaining healthy individuals, communities and the nation.  Our experience with this film crew and exploration of the incredible story of Jukichi Oguri demonstrate that connecting with each other and exploring our own past can produce a sense of common ground across geographic and language barriers, and across time itself.  After their visit in Santa Barbara, the crew planned to travel to Sitka Alaska, to film at locations where Jikichi was taken on an otter trading vessel, before being brought back home to Japan. Adrift Across the Pacific will air in September 2019 on NHK Broadcasting.

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

Santa Barbara: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow symposium is a great success!

by Kevin McGarry and Anne Petersen

Barbara Lowenthol with Harrison Design leads a conversation on Santa Barbara’s historic context with Christine Pierron of the Cearnal Collective, Mary Louise Days, historian; Nicole Hernandez, architectural historian with the City of Santa Barbara; and Tim Hazeltine, historical consultant. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) was pleased to co-host a timely symposium, Santa Barbara: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, with partners Harrison Design, the City of Santa Barbara, and Downtown Santa Barbara from June 6-8, 2019. Our collective agenda for the symposium was simple; to create an occasion for informed dialogue about the future of Santa Barbara, and to illuminate the unique challenges and opportunities our community has and will face when considering the path forward.

To discuss these complex issues, we invited the community’s foremost minds in historic preservation, architecture, local government, and real estate for a one-day symposium at the historic Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. The symposium topic is a wonderful complement to our mission to inspire preservation advocacy throughout Santa Barbara County in order to create a more vibrant community.

1st Thursday at the Alhecama Theatre. Photo by Ohan Arakelian.

On Thursday, June 6, SBTHP hosted a 1st Thursday program with our partners, showcasing some of the State Street archive drawings produced by renowned architects in the mid-1920s. This collection of ten historic, color renderings provided by the UCSB Art, Design, & Architecture Museum were mounted on the walls of the Alhecama Theatre. Guests were not only invited to view the collection but were also encouraged to enjoy a glass of wine from Grassini Family Vineyards and converse about the future of Santa Barbara’s development. Free to symposium ticketholders as well as the general public, this special 1st Thursday event was a great success and set the stage for the dialogue to be had at the symposium scheduled for the following day.

Dennis Doordan speaking about traditional urbanism. Photo courtesy of Harrison Design.

On Friday June 7, over 100 community members gathered in the Alhecama Theatre to enjoy a series of lectures and panel discussions about the past and future of Santa Barbara.  Highlights included a lecture on traditional urbanism by Dennis Doordan, professor emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and a history of planning in Santa Barbara by former mayor and current Planning Commissioner Sheila Lodge.  Panel discussions about the city’s historical context, architectural resources, and future development rounded out the sessions.

Anthony Grumbine leads a walking tour through the Street in Spain. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

At the mid-point of the day participants broke into groups for guided walking tours of the Presidio Neighborhood and State Street let by Anthony Grumbine and Serena McClintock of Harrison Design, and Nicole Hernandez, the architectural historian for the City of Santa Barbara. Following the tours, symposium guests enjoyed lunch catered by Rudy’s Presidio Restaurant at the historic Casa de la Guerra courtyard. This allowed for candid discussions about Santa Barbara’s past, present, and future in a fitting historic environment.  The symposium was followed on June 8 by an architectural paint-out at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.

Lunch at Casa de la Guerra. Photo courtesy of Harrison Design.

The past and future development of Santa Barbara can produce high emotions and a spectrum of opinions.  We are proud that our partners helped bring together a diverse group of stakeholders for a congenial and open-minded conversation about our shared commitment to the community. We are grateful for the many local businesses and organizations who supported the event. You can find them listed here.

If you missed the display of State Street archive drawings at 1st Thursday, you can view them at Casa de la Guerra through the end of August.

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

Cota-Knox House Receives Colonial Dames of America 2019 Award for Excellence!

by Anne Petersen

(L-R) Ruth Loper, Joy Chamberlain, Kathi Hobbs Chulick, Debbie Kendrick, SBTHP Executive Director Anne Petersen, Marjory Friestad, Judith Cardinal, and Katherine Cowell Collins. Photo by Katherine Collins.

We are pleased to announce that the Cota-Knox House restoration project was awarded the Colonial Dames of America’s 2019 Award for Excellence at the organization’s annual meeting on April 29 in New York City.   The award will fund a rendering of the restoration project, a key tool in helping the community visualize the completed project and its value.

Architectural drawing of the facade detail which will inform the painted rendering of the restoration. By Harrison Design.

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 today. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

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.

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. 

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