Tag Archives: El Presidio SHP

Ceramic Artist Continues Santa Barbara Tradition of Beautiful Tile Plaques

by Michael Imwalle

Jeannie Davis's recreation of the enameled plaque honoring the California Conservation Corps' contributions to El Presidio SHP. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Jeannie Davis’s recreation of the enameled plaque honoring the California Conservation Corps’ contributions to El Presidio SHP. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

I was fortunate to meet Jeannie Davis in 2007 at a Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Descendant’s and Genealogy Committee meeting, where she graciously volunteered to make a plaque to honor the seventy-seven burials laid to rest the Presidio cemetery. In April 2013 she took on the challenge of replicating a plaque honoring the contributions of the CCC to the development of the El Presidio SHP. Late last year she undertook the daunting task of making a plaque to commemorate the November 15th visit of Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain.

SBTHP Development Assistant Christa Clark Jones and Jeannie Davis select glaze colors for the plaque honoring Prince Felipe.  Photo by Michael Imwalle.
SBTHP Development Assistant Christa Clark Jones and Jeannie Davis select glaze colors for the plaque honoring Prince Felipe. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

SBTHP Development Assistant Christa Clark Jones designed the plaque using a combination of artistic elements from the interior of the Presidio Chapel and the Royal Crest of the Crown Prince of Asturias. Christa and Jeannie carefully chose glaze colors that would tie the design elements of the decorative border to the colors in the  crest and in less the than two months, after dozens of hours of painting and firing Jeannie produced the beautiful plaque that is featured on the cover of the Spring 2014 issue of La Campana.

The completed plaque honoring Prince Felipe destined for the donor wall at El Presidio SHP.
The completed plaque honoring Prince Felipe destined for the donor wall at El Presidio SHP.

The plaque is eventually going to be installed on a donor wall honoring major contributors to El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP. The donor wall will be incorporated into the recently completed Northwest Corner Defense Wall along the proposed Paseo del Presidio.

I am excited to be working with Jeannie on designing a new set of collectible tiles commemorating the twenty-one missions and four presidios of Alta California. For Jeannie’s tireless efforts she was honored with SBTHP’s 2014 Sue Higman Volunteer of the Year Award. Thank you Jeannie for all your hard work and we look forward to working with you on many more projects in the future!

Jeannie Davis with Prince Felipe on November 15, 2013.
Jeannie Davis with Prince Felipe on November 15, 2013.

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

It’s All Fun and Games at the Presidio!

by Brittany Avila

Visitors making their own ring and pin at El Presidio SHP.  Photo by Mallory Gonzalez.
Visitors making their own ring and pin at El Presidio SHP. Photo by Mallory Gonzalez.

When I began working for SBTHP my predecessor, Amanda Gonzalez, already had developed  two fantastic activities offered for free to our younger visitors on the weekends; one focusing on adargas (shields made of leather) and the other on cueras (the leather jackets worn by soldado de cuera). Both were entertaining and informative, but Amanda’s creative ideas didn’t stop there. She came up with two more activities, one focusing on huerta, or fruit and vegetable gardens, created in Early California as a source of food production, and the Ring and Pin game created by the Chumash. Both activities were beneficial in that they drew the attention of children through the idea of playing with dirt, or making a game with their friends, as well as providing insight into two different life ways in Early California.

Unfortunately Amanda moved on to graduate school before she could complete the activities, so I began to pick up the pieces in hopes of bringing her ideas to life. The original goal of the huerta activity was to not only show children where early settlers’ food and medicine came from, but also to shed light on the Presidio Heritage Gardens as part of the site. During the activity kids are urged to go and see a reconstructed huerta for themselves at the Presidio Heritage Gardens to obtain a realistic sense of the types of plants grown in them.

Components of the Huerta activity. Photo by Brittany Avila.
Components of the Huerta activity. Photo by Brittany Avila.

I was fortunate enough to have both literature and hands-on information to be able to write up an accurate description of early plants and what exactly a huerta was for our weekend interpreters to share with visitors. Our archaeologist Mike Imwalle took me to La Huerta at the Santa Barbara Mission to see for myself a reconstructed huerta on a larger scale and get a better understanding of what many of the native and introduced plant species looked like. Our Associate Director for Historical Resources, Anne Petersen, then introduced me to some wonderful books and files in our Presidio Research Center collections that created a basis for my knowledge.

Components of the ring and pin activity. Photo by Brittany Avila.
Components of the ring and pin activity. Photo by Brittany Avila.

As for the Ring and Pin activity, which, to give you a picture, is a game in which a ring of a certain size is tied to a stick of a certain size, and then you attempt to fling it up and around the stick (it’s more difficult than it sounds!). Most of my information on the topic was found in the books The Chumash and the Presidio of Santa Barbara: Evolution of a Relationship and Material Culture of the Chumash Interaction Sphere, V.5. I was fortunate to have one of our docents, Frank Arredando, a Chumash descendant,  review the information I compiled about the game and add in suggestions. Overall with the help of some experts I was able to put together two comprehensive and informative backgrounds on the new activities.

The next step was finding the funds to supply the activities, which although not a large expense, posed a problem nonetheless. After sending in a donation request, Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center was gracious enough to provide us with a $100.00 gift card, which covered the costs for the majority of our supplies. The rest was taken care of by Mike Imwalle and Frank Arredando, who helped gather sticks, piping, and compiled some leftover garden supplies to cover the two activities. We are currently supplied enough to continue these activities for at least one year, with no cost to SBTHP!

I presented the huerta activity to a tour of 3rd graders, who were ecstatic and very enthusiastic about beginning their own gardens at home. So far our Weekend Interpreters have reported that the Ring and Pin activity is also a hit with the young ones, who are all very determined to get their ring on their stick and intrigued that a real local  native tribe played this game too.

We at SBTHP are happy to present these activities and thankful for all of the support we received in their creation!

Brittany Avila is the office manager at SBTHP, and provides oversight for the visitor experience on the weekends. 

Pearl Pays for Painting the Pico!

by Mike Imwalle

Interior of the Pico Adobe masked and ready for painting, March 13, 2012. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Sorry, I could not resist an alliteration like that. Thanks to a generous grant of $2,000.00 from the Pearl Chase Society, the recently re-roofed Pico Adobe was given another lift last week when it was painted by Channel Coast Corporation (CCC). Thanks in part to a generous grant of $5,000.00 from the Pearl Chase Society last year a new cedar shingle roof was installed in November 2011.

After the roof leaked during the winter of 2010 the white ceiling planks were stained yellow due to the leaking cedar shingles. Crews arrived last Monday to carefully prepare the interior by draping the walls with painter’s tarps and wrapping the beams, light fixtures, furniture, and everything else not to be painted with protective plastic. The crew primed the ceiling with stain blocker and applied a finish coat of white paint to match the walls.

On the exterior of the building new lumber that was installed during the roof repair was stained to match existing exterior woodwork.  With a new roof and a new paint job the Pico adobe is once again ready to serve the community as a meeting facility and small reception venue. For information on renting the Pico Adobe for your organization please contact: (805) 965-0093.


Finished Pico adobe interior. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

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

Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight

by Karen Schultz Anderson

The Presidio Comandante has just stepped away from his desk, but he'll be back on March 1 between 5-8pm to receive you! Photo by Karen Schultz Anderson.

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is happy to join in on Santa Barbara’s First Thursday on March 1 with a brand new, free event — Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight.  Enjoy a rare opportunity to visit El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park by candlelight and experience the site as you might have seen it two hundred years ago… in the evening.  Sip a glass of wine and stroll around, while costumed men and women converse, cook and play period music and dance traditional dances.

The exterior of the Presidio will be decorated with beautiful luminaria guiding guests into rooms lit by candles.  Inside you will witness historic conversations between Presidio Commandant Felipe de Goicoechea, Lt. José Francisco Ortega, and Governor Felipe de Neve, portrayed by Dr. Jarrell Jackman, Jim Martinez, and Michael Hardwick.  In the chapel, you will hear Luis Moreno play music from Early California and see the Las Fiesteras dance troupe, directed by Diana Replogle-Purinton. Walk over to the cocina, where you will smell freshly prepared albondigas soup.  Take a peek in El Cuartel to see soldiers relaxing in the evening; also enjoy visiting the Padre’s Quarters and see women working on handcrafts.  You might even bump into a padre walking the corridor or a guitar-player strumming a tune.  The evening will begin and end with military drill performed by the soldados del reál Presdio, under the leadership of David Martinez.

Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight, March 1st, 5-8 p.m., is a step back in time, and a wonderful family activity.  So even if you have visited the Santa Barbara Presidio many times before, don’t miss this chance to see it again in this very different light.  Who knows what will lurk around a candlelit corner?

Karen Schultz Anderson is the education director at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.  


Blacksmith Moises Solis

by Karen Anderson

Moises Solis (right) building athe horno at El Presidio SHP. Photo by Karen Anderson.

On December 31, 2011, Moises Solis retired from State Parks after 35 years of service. He worked at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, as well as El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, technically as a Maintenance Worker 1, but more famously as blacksmith. For the Presidio and for the Casa de la Guerra, he made window and door hardware. He also constructed the Presidio’s horno along with volunteer assistance.

Solis, a native of Querétaro, Mexico, immigrated to California at the age of 18 to work as an immigrant farm laborer. He began working at La Purisima SHP in 1976 as a park aide. Solis worked his way up to the top Maintenance Worker, the position he held until his retirement, but he was often seen in the blacksmith shop, working with the anvil that was used by his father in Mexico. (Solis learned the trade from his father, working by his side in Mexico.) He was an important part of the Student Learning History Days at La Purisima, as well as living history days at the Presidio.

Demonstrating how to make hand-forged nails during SBTHP's Early California Days program. Photo by Karen Anderson.

His specialty is constructing hardware – ranging from nails, hinges, locks, and bells – from the 18th century. Solis commented, “I know how to make anything out of metal that’s related to the mission period. This is part of my culture, of Mexico.”

Solis’ retirement was celebrated in Lompoc on January 22 by approximately 300 people, who enjoyed a bit of toasting and roasting this famous figure. He remarked that he felt “very honored” by the party. He has been awarded the title of “honorary docent” by the volunteers and docents with whom he has worked over the years and will continue to work as a historic blacksmith.

So next time you visit the Presidio on Early California Day, Founding Day or Presidio Pastimes, look for Moises Solis and tell him what a treat it is to still see him heating metal over the fire, pounding out nails, or merely smiling as he explains the age-old process of blacksmithing.

For more information about Solis click here.

Karen Schultz Anderson is Director of Education at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation and Moises Solis Fan Club Member.

Tell the Story of the Beginning of Santa Barbara

SBTHP is looking for new docents!

Leading guided tours is one of the most popular opportunities for SBTHP docents. Photo by Karen Anderson.

Do you love History, want to get more involved, or give back to your community? Help tell the story of the beginning of Santa Barbara by becoming a docent with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. SBTHP docents give tours to both schoolchildren and adults, and provide interpretation at living history days. Enriching activities for docents include special field trips to other cultural institutions, giving docents opportunities for lifelong learning. Volunteering as a docent is a great way to meet people who share your interest in local history and culture.

Docent tours leave lasting impressions on young people. Drawing by a local student, mailed to SBTHP staff after a site visit.

Find out more at our Docent Open House on February 6th at 3:00pm at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park (123 East Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara). Training sessions take place on Thursday afternoons in February and March. For more information, please contact (805) 965-0093 or meredith@sbthp.org.

The Garden Thrives, But We’ll Miss You Gazal and Corinna!

by Gazal Hamayouni and Corinna Roberts

During their internship, the Sonoran Wheat grew as tall as Corinna! Or did it? Photo by Gazal Hamayouni.

We are nearing the end of our internship, so there is no better way to say goodbye than to tell our readers what we have accomplished in our five months of volunteering with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

Building the pea trellis. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The last time we blogged, we shared information about the vegetables that were growing behind the cocina on the Northeast corner of the Presidio. Most of those vegetables have survived, and we have planted new crops such as strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, and more peas (check out our handmade trellis, it’s pretty awesome).

Arugula? I hardly know 'ya! This monster arugula plant's days are numbered, but it will taste good no matter how large it gets. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The radishes are still there, and if you read this blog post and still haven’t checked them out for yourself, you better get on that because they have gotten so big that they are going to explode! We also have arugula, beats, chard, carrots, and cabbage.  They are growing little by little, but they are getting there! You can also find wheat and peas over at El Cuartel, so we urge you to stop by and look at the progress.

Weeding the wheat furrows. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Our last task before we leave has been to restore all of the signs made from roof tiles that were used to label the crops around the gardens.

First peas of the winter crop! Photo by Gazal Hamayouni.

It’s been a pleasure working with Mike Imwalle and Anne Petersen, we have learned so much about the history of Santa Barbara’s Presidio, as well as the art of gardening. We have been inspired to start our own gardens at home and we are even starting a garden at our own school, Anacapa, which is right down the street! We have enjoyed this time with our readers, and until next time. Peace and vegetables!

Gazal and Corinna in the Presidio Northeast Corner garden. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Corrina and Gazal are seniors at The Anacapa School.  Last week they finished up their one-semester garden internship at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Anacapa School is just down the street, so we look forward to bumping into them as they pop into the garden from time to time to check on the fruits of their labor.

What’s Beneath our Feet! Using Geophysical Survey Techniques as an Archaeological Tool

By Michael Imwalle

Lucas Nichols collecting data with a Geoscan Research Resistance Meter near the Presidio aqueduct. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

SBTHP recently welcomed Dr. Lewis Somers of Geoscan Inc. to El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park to give a lecture and hands-on demonstration of geophysical survey techniques. The lecture was part of SBTHP’s Archaeology Month programming.  On Saturday, October 15th, 2011 Dr. Somers discussed the use of various geophysical survey methods including ground penetrating radar, resistance, and magnetics. He also discussed the effectiveness of the various techniques at other Spanish Colonial period sites.

Bob Guess, Lucas Nichols, David Jackson, and Ginny Guess look on as Dr. Lew Somers explains how the sensors on a Geoscan Research Fluxgate Gradiometer measure magnetic data. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Following the lecture some of the attendees adjourned to the yard behind the comandancia for a hands-on demonstration of magnetometer survey and magnetic resistance survey. Both techniques employ the use of a grid system to collect data at predetermined spots across the site. Ropes representing the grid points are stretched across the site at one meter intervals. Correspondingly, each rope is marked with tape every meter. By walking along the ropes and timing the cadence of the instrument to record data at every meter marked on the rope, the data collected represents a grid of one meter squares across the site. While the magnetometer is carried just above the ground to collect data about the magnetic qualities of what is beneath the surface, the resistance meter consists of two probes inserted into the ground to measure electronic current as it passes through objects beneath the surface.

Bob Hoover outstanding in his field! Actually Bob is assisting with moving the survey ropes across the site. Note the intersection of two gridlines on Lot 72. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The purpose for Dr. Somer’s visit to California was twofold. After the lecture at the Presidio, Dr. Somers packed up his equipment and hauled it over the pass to the Santa Inés Mission. He was contracted to survey the adobe apartments for neophytes formerly located south of the mission quadrangle. The survey was funded by the California Missions Foundation. On October 17th, 2011, SBTHP volunteers and staff assisted with establishing a one meter by one meter grid across an area measuring almost 200 meters by 200 meters. SBTHP Board President Bob Hoover, Santa Inés Mission Mills Steward Wayne Sherman, and volunteers Allison Lorber, Lucas Nichols, Arturo Ruelas and I assisted with moving the survey ropes across the site as Dr. Somers recorded the magnetic data.

Dr. Lew Somers collecting magnetic data with the Geoscan Research Fluxgate Gradiometer and the Santa Ines Mission property. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Different techniques can provide varied results depending on a number of factors including the type of soil, the amount of iron in the soil, the amount of moisture in the soil, and the underlying geologic formation. Other factors such as the amount of “electronic noise” from metal fencing, underground, conduits, and overhead communications and power lines can also affect results. The best technique is the technique that provides the best results. The results may be partially determined by factors that can change like the amount of moisture in the soil.  Because the soil was very dry in October, Dr. Somers concluded that it was not practical to use resistance. He will return to the site in April 2012 to re-survey the same areas using resistance after the rainy season and be able to compare the results of the two techniques.

Volunteer Arturo Ruelas looking at a preliminary plot of the magnetic data from the area near the adobe apartments within the neophyte village at Santa Ines Mission. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Geophysical survey is an extremely valuable tool for archaeologists for developing research designs, testing strategies, and resource management. Having an idea about what is under the ground before an excavation allows limited resources to be focused on areas where there is a high probability of encountering features. Knowing where buried features lay without having to excavate them allows interpretation of the site without damaging it.  It also provides information to archaeologists and planners to help avoid archeological resources during development projects and preserve them in situ for future generations of researchers.

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