El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP
Narrated by Russ Christoff


Four presidios were built during California's Spanish period in the 18th century.

El Presidio de Santa Barbara was constructed as a military and governmental headquarters for the territory between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo.

In 1782, construction began on this presidio which was built with adobe bricks around a square about 400 feet to a side.

Devastating earthquakes during the early 1800's were responsible for the damage that eventually led to the ruin of the presidio buildings.

Today, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is responsible for the reconstruction and interpretation of this California state historic park, located in downtown Santa Barbara.

Efforts have been made, to restore and rebuild the presidio's structures on original foundation stones, thus creating the site to look as it did during the time of Spanish occupation.

Only two original structures remain and both were soldier's residences.

One of these is the Conejo adobe.

Today, it serves as a home to museum exhibits that visitors are welcome to tour.

The other is El Cuartel. This small gatehouse has the distinction of being the oldest building in the California State Parks' system, and is considered the second oldest building in California.

A beautifully reconstructed chapel sits on the site of Santa Barbara's first Christian church.

Extensive research was done to recreate this historically accurate building.

My guide Judith talked about what visitors will see inside.

GUIDE JUDITH: When the visitors arrive here, they will be able to view an early painting that was hanging here in the 1780's.

It represents Saint Barbara, and of course, is the patron saint of this city here.

The walls here were painted by Norman Neureberg. And, he found the blue pigment across the street in our gatehouse.

The alter was sent here from Mission San Fernando and dates back to the 1700's.

The statues represent the statues you would find in the alter niches in any of the early missions.

RUSS CHRISTOFF: This historic park holds living history programs. Call ahead for a schedule.