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4x4x4 Campaign


The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) is proud to be launching a major new capital campaign in 2014 to complete the Presidio Northwest Corner. The campaign, called 4x4x4, will fund four $4 million projects in four years. Once complete, the Presidio Northwest Corner will provide a dramatically improved experience for visitors and the local community alike. SBTHP, in partnership with California State Parks, has been preserving, reconstructing and interpreting El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park through a program of archaeology, historical research and public programs for fifty years. Here, we present our roadmap to the future.


1.  Archaeological excavation of the rear of the North wing.

Archaeology has provided the foundation of our research on the site since the first excavation at the Presidio in 1961. In order to reconstruct the fort’s outer defense wall on its original foundation, the site must be excavated down to the grade during the Spanish Colonial period, an average of two feet below the current surface. Portions of the site have been excavated through 5’ by 5’ excavation units, which have revealed, among other exciting discoveries, a Mexican-period well filled with objects and a privy reflecting Japanese occupation of the site. These collections enrich our understanding of the many layers of occupation of the Presidio site and provide material for exhibits and public programs.


2. Reconstructing the Presidio Defense wall from the Northwest Corner to Santa Barbara Street:

We have reconstructed the West portion of the Northwest Corner defense wall, the 11½ foot tall adobe wall that originally enclosed the fort’s quadrangle. Now, we need to continue the wall to Santa Barbara Street, which will enclose this portion of the Presidio and create an atmospheric, historical environment in the interior. New pedestrian walkways, called paseos, will be developed along the wall’s exterior, connecting Santa Barbara, Canon Perdido, Anacapa and Carrillo Streets. The paseos, an important part of Santa Barbara’s unique charm, will be planted with native species which will be interpreted with signage. Plants introduced by the Spanish to California will be interpreted on the inside of the defense wall.


3. Creation of a new Education Complex

In order to reconstruct the Presidio defense wall all the way to Santa Barbara Street, one of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park’s historic structures will be relocated away from the wall’s foundations. The Bonilla House was built in 1887 over the foundations of the defense wall, which had long deteriorated by that time. The house will be moved adjacent to the circa 1840s Buenaventura Pico Adobe, also a significant historic resource in the park. A new low exterior wall will enclose the two structures. When complete, the new Education Complex will provide a much-needed facility that will better serve school groups, one of the park’s primary audiences. The new complex will provide classroom space, room for lunches and backpacks, and an orientation area for school group visits. It will also house education staff offices and a docent lounge, centralizing the education function of the park near the location of Presidio tours, and fostering a sense of community.


4. New Visitor Center exhibits:

The El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP General Plan designated two rooms on the Presidio Northwest corner for a Visitor Center. SBTHP reconstructed these rooms in 2009. We will also incorporate additional interior and outdoor spaces in our new park Visitor Center. Planning for the Visitor Center began in 2012 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and we recently completed the Preliminary Design phase. Two introductory galleries begin the visit, with orientation exhibits that address major visitor questions: “Where am I?” and “Who lived here?” The “Place” gallery will introduce the founding of the Presidio and its wider historical context and chart the rich history of the site as it transformed through to the present day. A hands-on site model, beautiful artifacts and stunning graphics will convey a unique sense of place and the significance of the Presidio in the settling of California.





Educational and Visitor Benefits

  • State-of the-art, hands-on and technologically sophisticated interpretive exhibits that will engage and inspire wonder in community history for a broad audience.

  • ADA accessibility improvements allowing new access to people with diverse challenges.

  • Heritage garden spaces and new paseo landscaped with native plants expanding interpretive offerings to include the natural environment, foodways and sustainability themes.

  • Historical narrative emphasizing change over time and presenting new community stories bringing to light the experience of diverse peoples who have occupied this historic place over time. The only permanent, hands-on interpretation in our community of historical archaeology, an invaluable technique for understanding our past.

  • Increased capacity, comfort, and learning opportunities for student visitors, making SBTHP a stronger partner for local schools.


Benefits to Santa Barbara’s Downtown Historic Core

  • Creation of a new pedestrian passage connecting Canon Perdido and Santa Barbara Streets, enhancing a unique existing network of walking paths in downtown Santa Barbara.

  • Strengthening El Presidio SHP’s role as a destination site, attracting visitors and tourism dollars to the downtown and El Pueblo Viejo.

  • Enclosure of Northwest Corner providing space for increased private and public functions in downtown Santa Barbara.


Preservation Benefits and Architectural Enrichment

  • Significant progress toward the preservation and reconstruction of Santa Barbara’s birthplace, a shared goal between the City of Santa Barbara, State of California and SBTHP outlined in a 1967 Memorandum of Understanding.

  • New exhibits and programs contributing significantly to the public’s awareness, appreciation and stewardship of the community’s historic resources.

  • Expanded archaeological excavations that generate new material collections, which will be preserved and cataloged, and enhance SBTHP’s capacity to present evidence and interpret an accurate and nuanced history to the public.

  • Preservation of an in-situ archaeological site containing the earliest evidence of Spanish occupations of Santa Barbara.

  • Restoration of the Bonilla House, an 1887 residence constructed as the home for a prominent 19th-century Californio family.

  • Discovery stations interpreting historic construction and building practices including ceramic tile and adobe brick making, ensuring continuity in local knowledge of traditional building practices.

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