The History Of Our Museum

  • Slide 1

    In October 1932 a voluntary association was formed consisting of representatives from a number of local organizations. The purpose of this new group was to foster research and study of Santa Barbara County's history; to collect, preserve, and make available materials having to do with the subject; and to provide the exhibition of such materials. This new association was the Santa Barbara Historical Society.

  • Slide 2

    Soon after its founding, the Society was offered the round "tower" room in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse as an exhibition space and the Society began to collect, catalogue, and store artifacts and documents.

  • Slide 3

    In 1942, the Society moved to establish classes of membership, admit individuals, and set up a schedule of dues. The result was a considerable increase in membership and in the acquisition of materials for collections. On June 7, 1943, the Santa Barbara Historical Society became a California non-profit corporation.

  • Slide 4

    As membership grew, Society activities increased. In 1947, the Society published its first book, China Trade Days in California by D. MacKenzie Brown, based upon the papers of Alpheus Thompson, an early prosperous Santa Barbara merchant.

  • Slide 5

    The Society's growth necessitated a larger space than the courthouse tower room. Katherine Bagg Hastings offered her home, the Trussell-Winchester Adobe at 412 West Montecito Street, as a new headquarters. The house had been built in 1854 by Horatio Gates Trussell for his family. Mrs. Hastings arranged to transfer ownership of the house to the Society upon her death; the home was transferred in 1955.

  • Slide 6

    The search for a permanent home continued throughout the 1950s. Early in the decade the Society opened negotiations with the Franciscans at the Santa Barbara Mission regarding use of a portion of the mission cloister for office and exhibition space.

  • Slide 7

    In May1954 the first exhibition was held in the new quarters, and the Society would remain housed in the Old Mission for the next eleven years.

    In April 1955 the first issue of the Society's Noticias was published; this journal, devoted to the study of the Santa Barbara region, has been in publication ever since.

  • Slide 8

    In 1959 the Society acquired the Judge Charles Fernald Mansion. The fourteen-room Victorian style home, built by one of Santa Barbara's most prominent citizens of the late 1800s, was threatened with destruction in 1958.

  • Slide 9

    The Historical Society spearheaded a fundraising drive to purchase the house and have it moved adjacent to the Trussell-Winchester Adobe on West Montecito St.

  • Slide 10

    After a massive restoration project, Fernald House opened to the public as an historic home museum in 1962.

  • Slide 11

    In 1961 Santa Barbara County granted a 99-year lease to the Society for a parcel in downtown Santa Barbara and a building fund campaign was launched. In 1963 ground was broken for the adobe museum building - 25,000 square feet of exhibition, office, and collections storage space.

  • Slide 12

    The U-shaped adobe was designed by Robert Ingle Hoyt and was constructed from over 70,000 stabilized adobe bricks manufactured on site, with roof and floor tiles imported from Mexico.

  • Slide 13

    The dream of a permanent home for the Society was fulfilled with the dedication of the museum building at 136 East De la Guerra Street on February 28, 1965.

  • Slide 14

    In 1964, the Society also acquired two adobes adjacent to the museum grounds from the Rancheros Visitadores, the 1817 Covarrubias Adobe and the Historic Adobe, c. 1836. The Covarrubias is utilized as a lecture space and houses the office of the Docent Council. The Historic Adobe will soon house the John Edward Borein Gallery.

  • Slide 15

    In 1967 the Gledhill Library opened to the public as a state-of-the-art research library. One year later the Docent Council was formed, the Society's primary educational arm, which conducts museum tours and outreach programs to schools and community group.

  • Slide 16

    Professional development was a focus in the mid-1980s as staff increased and departmental specialization initiated. A Long Range Plan, adopted in 1985 and annually reviewed, became the foundation for future advancements.

  • Slide 17

    The Historical Society launched into a new era with the completion, in 2000, of a $3.5 million capital improvement project which included new environmental control systems to collections storage, and Museum gallery upgrades with new exhibition cases, lighting, and sound systems.

  • Slide 18

    This coincided with the beginning of a seven-year project by Southern California Edison to remediate the residual environmental effects due to the operation of the Santa Barbara Gas and Electric Company at the Museum's site at the turn of the 20th century. This project allowed for a total redesign of the Museum grounds.

  • Slide 19

    The new, permanent gallery installation, The Story of Santa Barbara, opened to the public in 2002.

  • Slide 20

    The following year, the $10 million The Gift of History Campaign was launched with the aim of constructing a new 8,000 square-foot collections vault, an interactive education center, and a new gallery devoted to the Society's collection of works by Western artist John Edward Borein.

  • Slide 21

    The campaign also included plans to upgrade existing collections facilities, Phase I of which was completed in spring 2007 with the retrofitting of the Gledhill Library reading room, stack room, and archives vault as well as the fine arts storage facility. Collections capacity in these areas more than doubled.

  • Slide 22

    Over the last five years the museum has continued to modernize. The Gledhill Library has been retrofitted with a new reading room, the archives vaults and fine arts facilities have been updated, the museum's penthouse has been renovated as a multi-purpose facility, and the new Museum Store opened in 2009.

  • Slide 23

    With 80 years of success laid as our foundation, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum begins another decade by continuing to work toward our mission of building a future worth remembering, and we look forward to the opening of the permanent John Edward Borein Gallery in Summer 2013.