On Wednesday January 29th, 2014 Cate School teachers Frank Griffin and Mamadou Pouye arrived at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP with nine students to volunteer for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. After a brief tour of the Presidio Northeast Corner and introduction into the history of the Presidio and adobe construction, students Dylan Ell and Musa Hakim helped Associate Director for Business Affairs Sally Fouhse with filing and sorting records in storage.
Meanwhile both teachers and students Sydney Luca-Lion, Charlotte Monke, Christian Burke, Chris Ba, Jacob Farner, Nick Thomas, and Robert Zhu went to the Presidio Northwest Corner to meet with Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia. After a brief safety meeting Eduardo gave them an introduction to “Whitewashing 101.” By the end of the day the teachers and students finished whitewashing the north and west sides of the reconstructed Northwest Corner buildings and the north side of the outer defense wall at the Presidio Northeast Corner along the pedestrian entrance to the Alhecama Complex from Santa Barbara Street.
Thanks for your hard work and we look forward to working with you again next year!
Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
This month in the Presidio Heritage Gardens the following vegetables just so happened to be perfectly ripe and ready for picking: tomatillos, onions, poblano peppers and oregano. So instead of searching through historical cookbooks for my next recipe, I decided to utilize the products of our fruitful garden and create a traditional Mexican dish that was sure to have been served in various forms in early California. Therefore I present to you this fresh, tangy concoction known popularly as chile verde.
1 ½ lbs tomatillos
1 white onion
2 poblano peppers (halved and seeded)
4 cloves garlic
¼ tsp Mexican oregano
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
½ cup vegetable broth
fresh ground pepper (however much you feel necessary)
meat of your choice (pork and poultry are most common for this sauce, but everything from eggs to beef have been used instead!)
You will need to begin by preheating your oven to 450 degrees. Prepare your tomatillos by husking and washing each of them. The washing portion may also involve some scrubbing as some tomatillos might have a sticky residue.
Although we don’t have a specific historical reference of their cultivation in early California, tomatillos were so popular in New Spain that it’s assumed they made their way to California at one point or another through the colonists coming from Mexico.
Tomatillos were domesticated by the Aztecs almost 3,000 years ago. When Spanish conquistadores were introduced to them in Mexico and Central America, they brought them back to Spain but misnamed them as tomate.
Next cut the poblano peppers into halves, remove all of the seeds inside, wash them off for good measure, and place on a baking sheet when done.
In early California all chiles, regardless of their size, taste or origin were referred to simply as chiles. Therefore it is difficult to make reference to any type of specific chile during this era.
I then cut up my onion, which actually was a bundle of small white onions, since they grew to a smaller size in our garden. I guesstimated how much would be equivalent to one whole onion. I simply cut my small onions into halves, but if you are using one large onion I advise cutting it into quarters or even eighths. Place your chopped onions on the sheet.
Lastly I peeled my garlic cloves and placed them on the sheet with everything else. Garlic was eaten raw to cure dropsy, which is more commonly known as edema. Unfortunately breath mints didn’t exist then to cure the bad breath side effects.
By this time my oven was toasty and ready, and I placed my sheet inside.
After 30 minutes, check on the vegetables…the peppers should be blackening on the outside but not so burnt that the skin WON’T peel off (that’s right, you want that leathery outside to come off). Take only the peppers off the sheet and run under cold water. As you do this, massage the pepper so that the black parts, or the skin, come off. Set aside.
Chiles sold in markets today are 20th century versions of the chiles found by Europeans during the colonization of California.
Once the sheet has been in there a TOTAL of 40 minutes, or when you see the onions browning take the sheet out and let cool.
In early California onions were used as an appetite enhancer, insect repellant and treatment for insect and snake bites.
Take your oregano, salt, sugar, vegetable broth and fresh ground pepper and mix in with peppers, tomatillos, garlic, and onion in a food processor.
Once the mixture has reached a puree, let it simmer in a well-oiled pan for 5-10 minutes. This is the point where you can add some shredded chicken as I did, or whatever pre-cooked meat meets your carnivorous needs.
Hens found in our local region during early California would have been Basque or Majorcan hens brought up from Mexico.
And once again a traditional recipe from Early CA turned out to be a taste bud pleaser!
Garriga, Andrew, and Francis J. Weber. Andrew Garriga’s Compilation of Herbs & Remedies Used by the Indians & Spanish Californians: Together with Some Remedies of His Own Experience. S. 1978. 22, 25.
Timbrook, J. Chumash Ethnobotany:Plant Knowledge Among the Chumash People of Southern California. Berkeley, CA: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Heyday Books, 2007. 26.
Mike Imwalle, SBTHP Archaeologist and Master Gardener, also provided a significant amount of historical information for this piece
Brittany Avila is SBTHP’s Office Manager and is enjoying pursuing her dream to be a maestro de la cocina
The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation has completed a Cooperating Agreement with the National Park Service’s Jaun Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail to help interpret the experience of the expedition as it traveled through California’s Central Coast. This expedition of over 240 people, mostly in family groups, walked from Mexico’s Sonoran desert up the California coast to found San Francisco in 1775/76 under the leadership of Juan Bautista de Anza. The expedition succeeded in founding the Presidio of San Francisco, and the legacy and descendants of those founding family’s can still be found throughout the state today. The expedition spent five days traveling through the Central Coast, and recorded descriptions of what they saw provide invaluable insight into the landscape, as well as the Chumash who called the area home.
In 2011 we held a three-part lecture series about the expedition and created a traveling trunk for schools as part of our cooperating agreement with NPS. You can see an earlier post by Torie Quiñonez, who facilitated these projects, here. We recently received the the third and final of these projects, a beautiful brochure and trail guide to the Anza Expedition and the Central Coast. The brochure is chock full of beautifully colored images, historical context and a detailed map of the expedition route and related sites that you can visit today. Come by the Presidio Visitor Center to pick up a hard copy, or you can download a high resolution pdf of the brochure from the NPS Anza Trail website here. Take a look at the other brochures available, and peruse the Anza Trail website. There is a treasure trove of information available.
We are also thrilled that El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park has been invited to participate in the National Park Service’s Passport Program because of its location along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. You can find out how to get a National Parks passport here. And if you already have one, come on by and add the Presidio to your collection! Click here to see where else you can grab a stamp along the Anza Trail, and follow in the footsteps of the expedition!
Anne Petersen is the Associate Director for Historic Resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
We are Kiara, Aiyanna, and Zinnia, students from The Anacapa School, and the current garden interns here at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). We’ve had this internship for about 3 months now. During our time here we’ve been tending to the wheat that was planted in late October of last year. Our first task when we come to the Presidio was to water the wheat in the Northeast corner gardens and El Cuartel. Since our time here we’ve seen it thrive and grow very rapidly.
During the “Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight” public program for First Thursday in March we participated by demonstrating the entire wheat harvesting process. We started off by threshing wheat from last season, removing the chaff, and then grinding the white Sonora wheat seeds into flour using a mano and metate.
Since our time here we’ve been helping Mike plant several plants in the gardens, such as pumpkins and cucumber in El Cuartel, and mint in the Northeast corner gardens. We also planted several varieties from seeds and cuttings, including popcorn, pumpkins, cucumbers, lima beans, grape vine cuttings, a variety of tomatoes, peppers, squash, gourds, and many others. When they are larger, many of the seedlings will be planted in the gardens. Several were also sold at a plant sale held during the Founding Day celebration on April 21 to benefit SBTHPs Presidio garden project.
We recently participated in the SBTHP’s “Early California Day” on April 20, where local elementary schools came and visited different living history stations representing Santa Barbara’s past. We were stationed in the early California plant demonstration, where we taught the students about native and non-native plants in the area, and the use of each plant that was available in the area.
We’ve really enjoyed our time here and cannot wait to see our plants grow!
Kiara, Aiyanna and Zinnia will tend the garden until mid-May, when Anacapa School breaks for the summer. We have all enjoyed working with these bright young women, and have also enjoyed some of the fruits of their labor!
In January of this year I reported that Channel Coast Corporation and David Tait Masonry completed laying the adobe bricks for a 60-foot section of the Northwest Corner defense wall. Once the bricks were laid to form the concrete bond beam at the top of the wall, it was Modern Concrete’s turn to climb the scaffolding to install reinforcing steel. On February 2nd the upper bond beam was poured and the gabled cap was formed.
On February 13th Cambron Roofing & Waterproofing arrived on site to begin installing a self-adhesive moisture barrier to the top of the concrete cap. Composition sheeting was rolled on the top of the wall before installing the tile cap. On February 17th Cambron laid the last of the tiles for the 60-foot section of wall and, for the first time since Northwest Corner construction began in 2005, visitors can appreciate the size and scale of the outer wall. This section of wall was completed thanks to generous contributions from the California Community Foundation, Williams-Corbett Foundation, Jackson Family Foundation, and the Ahmanson Foundation.
In the coming months, crews will plaster the wall and SBTHP volunteers will whitewash it. SBTHP is embarking on a major capital campaign to raise the funding necessary to complete the Northwest Corner Project. It is the primary goal of the SBTHP’s Restoration Committee to finish the Northwest Corner Project so that its completion can be celebrated in conjunction with SBTHP’s 50th anniversary in 2013.
In addition to the cost to pay for contractors to build the wall, the SBTHP must also raise money to make the adobe bricks necessary to finish the project. To date, more than 11,700 adobe bricks have been laid to build the Northwest Corner Visitor Center and the 60-foot section of defense wall. We still need 8,608 more adobe bricks to finish the job. If you would like to help support the making of 8,608 more adobe bricks to complete the project, please visit the buy-a-brick webpage here.
Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
During the week before Christmas, SBTHP director and maestro adobero Tim Aguilar began preparing the Presidio site for making a large batch of adobe bricks for the reconstruction of the Northwest Corner defense wall. Crews immediately began sifting dirt for the adobe mixture and grading the site flat for laying out the bricks. As soon as enough soil was prepared, crews began the process of mixing shovels of sifted dirt, water, straw, and a small amount of emulsified asphalt stabilizer.
The site of the actual brick making is prepared in advance by laying out a series of wooden molds end to end and moistening them with water. The molds are constantly kept wet to prevent the thick mixture of mud and straw from sticking to the sides. Each mold has three rectangular reservoirs that will produce three 22 x 11 x 4-inch adobe blocks. The mud is delivered to the molds via wheelbarrows and dumped on to the surface of the molds.
The “punchers” scoop the excess mud out of the wheelbarrows and distribute it across the gang of three molds. Then, using their fists, they punch the mud deep down into the corners of the mold. This is a very important process to insure uniform size and good quality bricks with square corners. Once the mud is punched into the molds the excess mud is scraped even with the top of the mold and the surface of the brick is smoothed by hand. The mold is lifted off the bricks and moved down to the end of the line to make another batch. Soon the site is covered with freshly made adobes ready to begin drying in the sun.
After laying flat for three or four days the bricks are tilted up on their side to maximize the amount of surfaces exposed to the air. This insures nice even drying and prevents cracking caused by the exterior of the brick drying faster than the center. After about a week of making bricks the entire site is covered, and we need to take a break to let them dry for about a month before we can stack them.
It is nice to have bricks all over site again. Brick making always generates excitement around the park and interest from the public.
I will be discussing more detailed aspects of adobe in future posts, including a closer look at the ingredients of adobe bricks, adobe construction, and the use of adobe bricks during construction of the original Presidio quadrangle.
Anyone interested in participating in an adobe brick making event please contact Meredith Brockriede at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer. If you are interested in supporting the Northwest Corner Reconstruction Project, visit the Buy-a-Brick campaign webpage here.
Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
After more than four years of intensive archaeological investigation, in 2003 SBTHP embarked on its most ambitious reconstruction effort since the organization’s founding almost fifty years ago. The Northwest Corner Project included the construction of new public restrooms, four adobe rooms to house a new Visitor’s Center, and more than 235 linear feet of outer defense wall. With completion of the restrooms in 2005 and the new Visitor’s Center in 2008 it was time to shift the focus of the fundraising and reconstruction efforts to the monumental task of the outer defense wall.
In 2009 Channel Coast Corporation began the installation of 10-foot deep caissons to support 10-foot tall concrete columns. The columns would serve as the framework for the steel-reinforced bond beams that run the length of the 4-foot thick adobe wall.
With the concrete columns in place, David Tait Masonry began building a foundation of mortared sandstone to support the adobe walls. By October 2010 the foundation was completed, the first bond beam was poured, and we were ready to begin laying adobe bricks.
In January 2011 Tait Masonry laid a total of eight courses of adobe block on a 60-foot section of the wall closest to Canon Perdido Street and Channel Coast subsequently poured the second concrete bond beam. Work temporarily halted while additional funding was secured. In December 2011 thanks to generous contributions from the California Community Foundation, Williams-Corbett Foundation, Ann Jackson Family Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation, construction of the wall has resumed.
Today the last bricks at the top of the 60-foot section of wall were laid. By the end of January Channel Coast Corporation hopes to have the upper bond beam and tile cap installed on this section and the adobe bricks laid and first bond beam poured for the next 60-foot section.
This wall takes an incredible amount of adobe block to reconstruct. So far we have laid almost 8,700 adobes in the Visitor’s Center buildings and another 3000 in the first 60 feet of defense wall. We still need more that 10,000 bricks to complete the project.
Recently SBTHP director and presidio descendant Tim Aguilar and a crew made another 1,900 adobes.
Stay tuned next week for a post on adobe brick making and how you could become involved. If you would like to help support the making of 8,000 more adobe bricks to complete the project, please visit our buy-a-brick webpage.
Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
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