Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation board president Terease Chin, right; event co-chairs Debby Aceves and Keith Mautino; and a Presidio soldier greeted each guest attending the Founding Day dinner at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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iSociety: Rochelle Rose

As part of its weekend Founding Day celebration, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation held a Candlelight Dinner in the historic Presidio Chapel at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. The evening proved to be beautiful and memorable for nearly 200 guests, who sampled a taste of the past — complete with period costumes, Spanish food and live music.

After a friendly social hour and reception in the Presidio’s courtyard and in its historic rooms, guests were directed toward the chapel. Each person was granted a formal red carpet entrance with drum roll as they entered. Guests were individually announced inside the elegantly illuminated chapel, which was filled with layers of candlelight, from small votives on the tables to four-foot high candelabra.

Such a magical evening had never before been experienced in the Presidio Chapel.

Spanish hors d’oeuvres were followed by a four-course dinner prepared by Montecito Country Club executive chef Michael Blackwell and David Reardon. The menu included a heritage garden salad, tamale de Puerco, grilled skirt steak or chicken, frijoles, chilies en raya, and a dessert of flan and berries.

The formal program was opened by trust board president Terease Chin. She acknowledged the Celebrate Santa Barbara co-chairs Debby Aceves and Keith Mautino, as well as Candlelight Dinner chairman David Bolton.

Also recognized were the event’s important sponsors, including the Hutton Parker Foundation; Montecito Bank & Trust, represented by president and CEO Janet Garufis; David Bolton; Hollister & Brace; Helene and Jerry Beaver; Terease Chin and Ken Yamamonto; Mary Louise Days; Omega Financial Group; Susan and Bob Tuler; Zaytoon Restaurant; the California Missions Foundation; La Huerta at Old Mission Santa Barbara; and Produce Available.

In between courses, board member Craig Makela took the microphone to orchestrate the Paddle Raise. After securing a challenge to match a pledge of $20,000 from past board president John Poucher, the paddles were waving in the audience to match the pledge at $5,000 and $1,000. Ultimately, $90,000 was raised to support the trust and its mission to preserve Santa Barbara history.

“We are so appreciative of this enthusiastic support,” Makela said. “Thank you for making this a truly memorable evening.”

After the Friday night fete, the trust hosted an all-day Founding Day Festival on Saturday and a Rancho Roundup event after the festival that featured live music by the Doublewide Kings, Young Millions, The Caverns and other musical groups. There was food to purchase and beer and tequila booths, as well.

Founded in 1963 by Pearl Chase and other concerned community leaders, the nonprofit SBTHP is the primary force in the reconstruction and preservation of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park — Santa Barbara’s 18th century birthplace — and Casa de la Guerra — the 1820s home of Santa Barbara patriarch José de la Guerra. Today the casa is an historic house museum featuring original furnishings and temporary exhibitions.

In 2008, SBTHP signed an agreement with California State Parks to operate and develop the Santa Inés Mission Mills in Solvang — two 1820s fulling and grist mills that are part of a National Historic Landmarks District — as a future state park.

SBTHP recently purchased the building that housed Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, providing an opportunity to interpret the history of Santa Barbara’s Asian community in the presidio neighborhood.

With continuing education activities and exhibits, SBTHP strives to encourage community involvement and foster an appreciation for Santa Barbara’s distinct history.

Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, or call 805.965.0093. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.