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$1 Million Restoration Complete of Centuries-Old Hill-Carrillo Adobe in Santa Barbara

Release Date: January 30,2020

$1 Million Restoration Complete of Centuries-Old Hill-Carrillo Adobe in Santa Barbara

The downtown building, owned by the Hutton Parker Foundation, reopens its meeting space to local nonprofit organizations

Hill-Carrillo AdobeThe meeting space inside the Hill-Carrillo Adobe in Santa Barbara welcomes visitors again after undergoing a 10-month restoration. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews | January 30, 2020 | 8:10 p.m.

A beloved and historic building in downtown Santa Barbara recently reopened its meeting area to local nonprofit organizations after undergoing 10 months of restoration.

The nearly 200-year-old Hill-Carrillo Adobe, owned by the Hutton Parker Foundation, received a roughly $1 million makeover. 

The adobe, at 11-15 E. Carrillo St., has been an active community gathering space and a center of Santa Barbara philanthropy since its construction in 1826.

“When you walk into the building,” Hutton Parker Foundation President Tom Parker said, “it warms you when you come in.”

On Thursday afternoon, the Hutton Parker Foundation invited dozens of representatives from local nonprofit organizations to visit and tour the restored adobe.

People admired the new features and mingled on the enclosed courtyard patio at the gathering.

The Hutton Parker Foundation collaborated with the Santa Barbara Historical Museum to ensure an authentic restoration and to create new exhibits celebrating the adobe and the culture of philanthropy in Santa Barbara.

“When people walk in here, they are going to be surrounded by the history of philanthropy,” Parker said of the newly restored board room.

The room inside the Hill-Carrillo can be reserved free of charge for lectures, meetings and education opportunities exclusively for nonprofit organizations. 

Inside, a photographic exhibition is dedicated to early philanthropists in Santa Barbara history.

Some gems include Esther Fiske Hammond, who purchased the adobe in 1916 and began a major restoration of the venerable site, and Maximilian Charles Fleischmann, who was instrumental in founding the Santa Barbara Foundation, one of the community's largest philanthropy organizations.

The board room exhibit also features others who have had significant impacts on the community, including Katharine Dexter McCormick, Pearl Chase, Dwight Murphy, Frederick Forrest Peabody, Huguette Clark, Lillian Child and others. 

Hill-Carrillo AdobeClick to view larger

The Hill-Carrillo Adobe meeting area features a photographic exhibition dedicated to early philanthropists in Santa Barbara history. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The collections on display inside the adobe represent a range of cultural history, including photographs, original artwork and other historical items from the Santa Barbara Historical Museum and the Hutton Parker Foundation.

“I’m pleased with the final result,” said Michael Redmon, historian for the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. “The Hutton Parker Foundation has done a marvelous job of restoring the adobe, and when you come in here, you feel the 1830s ambiance.”

Other renovations include new furniture plus heating, ventilation and air conditioning to the board room, installation of a new roof, improved lighting, restored paint inside and outside of the building, and new furniture with several items from the 1800s. The administrative area got new floors as well as renovations to the bathroom and kitchen. 

The inside of the adobe is a trove of Santa Barbara history.

The adobe’s sitting area now displays original paintings of the space and other historic Santa Barbara adobes by past and present artists.

The adobe boasts photographs of significant historical figures and events, and images of the site as a Chinese school and laundry in the late 19th century. It also displays a one-of-a-kind ginger jar found during a previous restoration.

Notable items that were donated also include a Mission-era chair used by an early president of the Santa Barbara Foundation, antique sabers, a vintage writing desk, an iron, a bowl and a pitcher, and other treasures.

The work of artist Daniel Sayre Groesbeck — who created the Mural Room interior masterpiece at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in 1929 — is hanging over the fireplace inside the adobe.

The Hill-Carrillo Adobe is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the site is one of nine California Historical Landmarks in Santa Barbara. 

The Santa Barbara Foundation formerly occupied the facility for 83 years. The Hutton Parker Foundation purchased it in 2014, and it had several tenants until the restoration project started in February last year.

— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.