NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
After 10 months of work, Hutton Parker Foundation has brought the Hill-Carrillo Adobe to its former glory and reopened the building to local nonprofits.
Foundation spokeswoman Julia McHugh said nonprofits have been holding meetings in the historic building’s board meeting room since Jan. 30. The space already has booked 225 days worth of meetings since the reopening.
CSU Channel Islands, Channel Islands YMCA, Santa Barbara County Partners in Education, the Lobero Theatre and the Sierra Club are among the organizations that have taken advantage of the meeting space.
“I was born here 73 years ago. My dad was a butcher on Milpas Street and it used to be service clubs that provided a lot of the service to people in need in this town,” said Foundation President Tom Parker.
“It’s not just wealthy people, the whole community really cares,” said Mr. Parker, who added that it was appropriate the reopening of the Adobe coincides with the Foundation’s 25th anniversary.
Mr. Parker said when he saw the Santa Barbara Foundation move out of the Adobe after 83 years, he feared the building might not continue to be used for philanthropic purposes.
The Foundation decided to buy the Adobe in 2014 to keep it in the community for the next 100 years.
“Then we went about thinking ‘What is the best thing to do with it?’
“One was to explain about the history and make it a small little museum. For the foundation, the real driving force was the idea that we could reach out to even more nonprofits by providing a place to have board meetings and conferences,” said Mr. Parker.
The board room can seat 25 people and a newly installed air conditioning system will ensure nonprofit leaders can comfortably conduct their meetings.
“The adobe (brick) helped keep things cool, but it was a little rough,” said Ms. McHugh.
Pictures of famous local philanthropists and local heroes adorn the boardroom walls. Maximilian Fleischmann, Katharine Dexter McCormick, Pearl Chase, Dwight Murphy, Frederick Forrest Peabody, Huguette Clark and Lillian Child are all included in the display.
“These are people that volunteered their time and money for 200 years in this town. That’s what this town is all about, and when nonprofits come here, they’re part of something that has been going on for centuries. It’s what made this town what it is,” said Mr. Parker.
According to Santa Barbara Historical Museum Historian Michael Redmon, the Adobe was built in 1825 by Daniel Hill, who was an East Coast transplant who married into the influential Ortega family.
“In fact, the first commander of the Santa Barbara Presidio was an Ortega,” said Mr. Redmon.
Mr. Hill built the Adobe as a gift to his new wife, Rafaela Luisa Ortega.
The building was one of the first local buildings to have wooden floors, with its glass windows were imported from Boston.
In the 1830s, the Hills moved to a ranch in Goleta and the Adobe was purchased by fur trader John Wilson and his wife, Ramona Carrillo Pacheco.
Santa Barbara Mayor Guillermo Carrillo lived in the Adobe during the 1850s, but by the late 1800s the building was falling into disrepair. It was used for residences, offices, a Chinese school, a Chinese laundry and other community uses.
In 1916, Esther Fiske Hammond of Montecito purchased the Adobe, had it refurbished and added two wings.
In 1928, the Adobe was threatened by plans to build a movie theater on the site. Mr. Fleischmann bought the property to ensure its preservation and. two years later. he deeded it to the Santa Barbara Foundation.
“This building has been many things, but it was home to the Santa Barbara Foundation for 83 years. One of the things they did was to let nonprofits use that boardroom for meetings for free. That tradition continues today,” said Ms. McHugh.