SB Trust for Historic Preservation

By Lynda Millner   |   February 1, 2021
Presidio soldados Robert Knox, David Martinez, Matthew Mora, Diane Soto Ruiz, and Russell Clay Ruiz

This was the 55th annual meeting for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) held in the Presidio Chapel. Board president Terease Chin called the meeting to order and said, “Let us have a moment of silence for the devastation we have all just been through.” As we all know, it’s hard to even comprehend the damage to property and people. By the time this is published, Montecito should be on track but I wonder if it will ever seem normal again.

After Terease welcomed all the Trust members, she gave the president’s report, noting that in 2017 nearly all events had record-breaking attendance. The Founding Day Festival had a record 800 attendees commemorating 235 years of history at the birthplace of Santa Barbara, El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. 

In June, there was a public screening of Grasshopper for Grandpa, which is a short documentary by local director/producer Casey McGarry. The film is about Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, which has been around for 60 years before owner Tommy Chung closed its doors in 2006. It is open once again and is the last visible remnant of Santa Barbara’s Chinatown.

During Fiesta, Casa de la Guerra was filled with the largest crowd ever celebrating the Fiesta as they did in 1924 in that very spot. In October, the 8th Annual Asian American Neighborhood Festival celebrated with more than 1,000 folks at El Presidio. The list goes on.

Executive director Anne Petersen reported, “The Trust continues to provide our audience with excellent educational programs and with increased attendance. There’s a new campaign to restore the Cota-Knox House. For future plans, after they have conducted all of their workshops, they will have consulted with 75-plus stakeholders about what the organization currently offers and how they can better serve. Partnerships have been formed such as with the Santa Barbara Folk Orchestra. They are musicians in residence and perform four shows per year. The Presidio has a new tenant in Make Smith Leather Co. at 135 de la Guerra. Owner and craftsman Steven Soria will do tours and demonstrations for school programs. Again, the list goes on.

Awardees were Blue Owl, which has provided wonderful Asian-inspired dishes and more to the organization’s events and programs throughout the past year. SBTHP recognized Caroline Wedderburn for her consistent participation. She became a docent and has since led many tours, participated in living history demonstrations, and volunteered for multiple events. Rudy’s Presidio opened in the fall of 2017 and is a treasured partner, donating and serving delicious food and refreshments for guests at Dia de Los Muertos and Una Noche de Las Posados.

Terease Chin received special recognition for being a champion of strategic vision and education programs. She just completed her third year as president and eighth year as a board member. Don’t forget Kathi Brewster, who joined the board in 1992 and was an officer for seven of her eight board years. She’s especially into curatorial and educational programs. And then there is the Hutton Parker Foundation, with Tom Parker picking up the award for its long support of SBTHP even through difficult times. 

After electing a new board for the coming year, the audience trooped across the street to Alhecama Theatre for Grassini wine, tapas, and conversation. SBTHP encompasses El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP, Casa de la Guerra, Santa Ines Mission Mills, and Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens. Check them out at 123 East Canon Perdido Street or call (805) 965-0093. You can view their website at

Volunteer Jerri Imwalle and SB Trust executive director Anne Petersen at the annual meeting
Karla Blackwell and Tom Parker from the Hutton Parker Foundation at the Presidio meeting
Honoree Kathi Brewster and trustee Timothy Aguilar at the SBTHP meeting

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