From left, SBTHP’S board president Robert Hoover, archaeologist Mike Imwalle, boardmember Mary Louise Days, and SBTHP's executive director Jarrell C. Jackman
Courtesy Photo

Last month, the country’s leading historic preservation organization awarded its top honors to the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), acknowledging the nonprofit organization’s work to preserve, protect, and publicize some of California’s most legendary sites and its education of the Santa Barbara community. The 2011 Trustees Emeritus Award for Excellence for the Stewardship of Historic Sites was presented to the trust on October 21 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation during a ceremony at the National Preservation Conference in Buffalo, New York, where the SBTHP’s executive director Jarrell Jackman, president Robert Hoover, and lead archaeologist Michael Imwalle were on hand to accept.

“It was really an honor to be with some of the other award winners that day,” said Imwalle, who’s worked with SBTHP for nearly 25 years. “A lot of the work that has been done is incredible, and it means a lot for our efforts to have been recognized beside it.”

Founded in 1963 by Pearl Chase with the charge of restoring the northern quadrant of El Presidio de Santa Barbara, SBTHP has since managed the Presidio as a state historic park and museum. Excavations, exhibitions, and tours of the Presidio remain the nonprofit’s main project. The Presidio also serves as a center for special events in the Santa Barbara community.

“Weddings, concerts, and theatrical performances like La Pastorella [Santa Barbara’s oldest Christmas tradition] are not uncommon,” said Imwalle. “Our reach goes far beyond excavations.”

SBTHP also operates the Presidio Research Center, which holds thousands of books, manuscripts, blueprints, and photographs that catalog Santa Barbara’s history, and manages Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens in an effort to interpret the history of Santa Barbara’s Asian-American community. The organization restored Casa de la Guerra, the 1820s home of Presidio comandante José de la Guerra, which now serves as a museum and a site for numerous civic celebrations. During the summer, SBTHP also runs an archaeological field school in association with Cal Poly in addition to its numerous educational programs, tours, lectures, and exhibitions offered to students across Santa Barbara County.

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