The Lobero Theatre: A Historical Shelter & Architectural Inspiration

In 1925, Santa Barbara experienced a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that resulted in 13 casualties and  eighty-five percent of the commercial buildings in Downtown Santa Barbara were destroyed or badly damaged. One of the only buildings left untouched was the Lobero Theatre.

Inspired by the 90th anniversary of the Santa Barbara earthquake, and the wonderful exhibit now on display at the The Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Emily Solomon takes us on a trip back in time…

Residents of Santa Barbara flocked to the Lobero for shelter and safety during this time. After the earthquake, there was lots of rebuilding that had to take place. One of the most influential architects on the project was George Washington Smith, who at the time was noted one of the most popular architects in the United States. During a California trip during WWI, Smith was visiting friends in Montecito. He enjoyed Santa Barbara so much that he ended up buying property to build himself a home and studio. His architectural style for the home was inspired by farmhouses he saw on a trip to Spain in 1914.

The Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style carried into his rebuilding efforts in Downtown Santa Barbara. Before the earthquake, the city’s buildings were mainly designed in the Moorish Revival style. In the end, Santa Barbara got a complete facelift and if the earthquake didn’t happen, we wouldn’t have the beautiful Spanish style homes and businesses that line our streets today.

The Lobero Theatre’s Mediterranean look also was a major factor during the rebuilding project. Smith and the other architects wanted the buildings to have uniformity, and the fact that the Lobero already had that Spanish look, made their decision to rebuild in that specific style even easier.

It is a remarkable history, and oh what stories this stage could tell! Santa Barbara has changed dramatically in 142 years, and the Lobero has always been at the heart of it all.

June 29 marked the 90th anniversary of the Santa Barbara earthquake. The Santa Barbara Historical Museum currently has a spectacular exhibit, showcasing still photographs and videos of footage of the earthquake. To take a sneak peak before visiting the exhibit, click here. 

Whenever you step into the Lobero Theatre, you feel like you’re in a space that has seen so much history and musical talent over the past 142 years. The Lobero shed a light on this, “History of a Community Stage” in the recent BACKSTAGE at the Lobero, which you can read here. This is just one more piece of history to recognize its historical importance, not just as a haven for great music fanatics, musicians, dancers and theatre enthusiasts, but also as a landmark of architectural brilliance and change.

 

Emily Solomon, Go-Content

Author Bio: Emily Solomon is no stranger to the Lobero Theatre. She recalls dancing in the theater during her early teenage years. While she spends most of her time writing content for local Santa Barbara businesses and for online publications, she always manages to escape to her favorite music venue to hear her favorite tunes and discover new artists to love. Emily is a graduate of Emerson College with a degree in Writing and Publishing. She currently runs an online content business called, Go-Content. Contact her at emilyfaye@go-content.com

Encore Lobero: November dispatch

November Behind-the Scenes construction photos

The show must go on!

With the Lobero’s first event on December 4, (aka, TONIGHT) November’s behind-the-scenes shots are showing that the end of the dust is mess is near. New seats have been installed, the remodeled bathrooms are taking shape, the lobby and promenade have been repainted, and new acoustical fabric has been hung on the auditorium back wall. Other important updates to the Lobero’s accessibility programs are in place, including braille signage, hearing loop technology, and new wheelchair ramps and lifts. You’ll see updated signs throughout the theatre. Plus, check out a closer look the Lobero’s new Olive Trees.

Watch the new seats being installed over the course of three days here, in less than 90 seconds.

and, as you may have seen in a previous post, the Lobero received two new, mature Olive trees. Watch the exciting process of these large trees being planted here.

Thanks to David Bazemore for the vids, and shots below — and thank you for keeping up to date with all the Encore: Lobero progress. Our Encore Season has officially begun!

 

Lobero Theatre Welcomes New Olive Trees

Lobero Theatre Foundation plants mature, fungus-resistant Olive Trees to replace those lost during construction.

We heard you! The Lobero Theatre Foundation celebrates the arrival of two new olive trees, planted on Thursday, November 7 as replacements for those removed during Encore: Lobero construction due to their poor condition caused by a fungus in the soil. This posed a particular challenge to the Lobero–not only to find suitably sized replacements, but also to make sure that the new trees will be resistant to the Verticillium that infected their predecessors. Lobero Theatre Board member Tim Casey and his wife Louise stepped up to the task, traveling all the way to Visalia in order to find the perfect trees.

“We as the Board took this responsibility
very seriously; we knew the trees were very important.
To be able to honor the community’s wishes and
preserve this aspect of the Lobero’s history
was the best possible outcome.”
– Tim Casey, Lobero Theatre Foundation
board member

Bob Cunningham, of Arcadia Studio Landscape Architecture, reports that the newly planted olive trees are of the Ascolano variety, which is the oldest verticillium-resistant variety in terms of its presence in the United States. The larger tree trunk has the same knobbed characteristics of the previous tree, and enjoys a healthy height and span on the Lobero lawn. The ages of both trees are believed to be near 75 years old with the larger of the two closer to 100 years old.

All photos by David Bazemore.

Encore: Lobero Behind the Scenes

October Lowdown

Preservation work in October saw the tides turning, as items are now being installed instead of removed. There is beautiful tile work taking shape in the newly enlarged restrooms, and there’s a sneak peek of the extensive drainage and plumbing now in place below the Esplanada. The huge system of scaffolding was removed from the auditorium once ceiling preservation work was finished. Concrete was beginning to be poured outside, and, at time of this writing, the original bricks are being returned to the Esplanade in order to be re-installed in the new configuration.

Take a look at the Lobero’s iconic Spanish-revival chandelier as it’s lifted back to its rightful home. Now, that’s a good sign that things are returning to normal.


Enjoy October’s gallery, below.

Special Edition: Editors’ notes

Go behind the scenes with this special edition of Backstage at the Lobero

With our newest issue of Backstage at the Lobero landing in mailboxes, and digital distribution now complete, I wanted to follow up with a few personal notes about this special edition, as the editor. Starting from the cover — a striking image of the Gail Towbes Auditorium without any seats in it — to the personal stories of contractors, donors, and passionate friends who have made all this possible.

I had been hesitant to show photos of the theatre during demolition, close-ups of cobwebs and the general grimy nature of construction… I didn’t want our friends to worry about what was happening behind closed doors, but I wanted to share some of the exciting bits of renovation. (Full disclosure: I’m an avid DIY-er in my own home, and fan of all the related television series.)

As with any issue of BACKSTAGE, it’s the stories that have the most heart, and remind us why the Lobero is Santa Barbara’s favorite theatre. For example, the Lobero’s newest board member, Steve Hayes, shares a personal story about meeting legendary jazz-man Wynton Marsalis with his son. Comedian Jonathan Winters‘ memorial was held at the Lobero Theatre earlier in 2013, and many stories and photos of him and his friends at the theatre came to light. This is also the first time the Lobero LIVE has listed some of the exciting Encore Season events, so remember, you’re the first to read about them. (Stay tuned, more to come!)

The issue can be downloaded here, if you have, or create, an account. Enjoy it on your digital device, anytime.

 

BSF13-cover-240x300
BACKSTAGE AT THE LOBERO

Behind the scenes of 
Encore: Lobero Preservation work 

Download the Full Issue

  

Don’t forget, the Lobero will re-open in December with new seats, bigger restrooms, heating and air conditioning, and improved access for all patrons as a part of Encore: Lobero. Learn more at LovetheLobero.com.

Dispatch from the Santa Barbara Bowl

Santa Barbara Bowl staff enjoy hard-hat tour

Last week the Lobero Theatre development team welcomed our friends at the Santa Barbara Bowl  for a behind-the-scenes tour. As another hardworking venue in town who have had their fair share of construction projects, they understand the task at hand.

We’d like to share a bit of a touching letter from Bowl staffer, Greg Kirchmaier, who got his start at the Lobero.

I was somewhat shocked to enter the Lobero Theatre and see it so empty. I am used to the building feeling “alive”, even when it was empty, when it was just me and the Ghostlight, as I tried to navigate my way from the box office to the green room after a long day of ticket sales.

The truth is, though the Lobero is dormant, it will awaken to be filled once again with all the music, drama, and dance that I remember from my years of working there.  The future will be like the past – thousands of audience members over the years, watching friends, family, and international touring artists up on that stage, creating memories to take with them as they leave.

I appreciate the time you and your staff took to give us a tour and update on the progress of your construction.  As another non-profit performance space that has undergone major renovation and construction, we at the Bowl understand what you are going through, and we look forward to celebrating with you in December!

Our thanks to the Santa Barbara Bowl staff for their heartfelt support. If you haven’t been to the Bowl yet this summer, they’ve still got great shows coming up.

Encore: Lobero Behind the Scenes

August’s construction gallery offers a once-in-a-lifetime view

Preservation work in August included one of the most interesting new views–up close and personal with the Lobero’s ceiling. Check out pics from on top of the 30 ft scaffolding built during this video. The ceiling’s textures are much bigger than I had anticipated, and very much in need of some touchup paint. In addition, there’s extensive ducting work above, so not only is the crew hiking 30 ft up to the ceiling, they prop smaller ladders up, and climb even higher.

Another detail to point out is a close-up of a Shakespearean drama mask; did you know those guys–both Comedy and Tragedy–are carved into the top of each pillar in the Lobero’s auditorium? They’ve been up there this whole time. A part of Encore: Lobeoro is refurbishing and highlighting clever architectural details like these. Be sure to look closely for unique touches like that once we reopen in December.

I give you, August at the Lobero’s once-in-a-lifetime viewpoint in this month’s gallery, below (… from above … you know what I mean.)

The Big Chill

Meet, the big crane

The Lobero is getting air conditioning for the first time in its existence. This air conditioning system is the thoughtful combination of modern engineering and historical elegance.

To wit: The Lobero Theatre was built in 1922 with no internal ducting structure whatsoever. In order to incorporate the comfort of a heating and air conditioning system into the auditorium, engineers and designers had to go deeper. In order to retain the Lobero’s historical integrity, it’s key that modernizations like this are not seen or heard. So, we called in the big guns. Experts including acousticians, HVAC professionals, architectural designers and historians were consulted to make sure the new system was integrated seamlessly, just the way George W. Smith & Lutah Maria Riggs would have liked.

As you can see, the solution was to house the big chiller on the roof of the Lobero and adjacent scene shop and add miles of ducting, much of which is underground, to reduce noise.

On August 6 a huge crane arrived at the Lobero to lift components for the new air conditioning system up onto the roof. Check out this 1 minute video snapshot of another milestone event in the Lobero Preservation Project. Video by David Bazemore.

Rise of the Scaffolding

Looking up, up, up at the Spanish Revival ceiling

The next order of business in the auditorium is to refresh the Lobero’s beautiful mosaic ceiling. 89 years of dust, grime and cigarette smoke (remember when it was acceptable to smoke in public places?) have left their mark. It’s time to show that ceiling some love.

Watch the enormous  scaffolding structure build up to 30 ft. tall over the course of five days, bringing the pros eye-to-eye with this gorgeous piece of history.

Thanks again to David Bazemore for his video skills.

Encore Lobero Behind the Scenes

See July’s gallery of Behind-the Scenes construction photos

Encore Lobero is entering its second month of preservation work, which means we’re almost one-third of the way through!

The new restrooms are taking shape with framing in place, and plumbing and electrical coming up soon. New concrete has been poured and other sub-floor work in the auditorium is now done, which means immense scaffolding structures are being built to allow painters to reach and refresh the mosaic ceiling. The ceiling renewal work may be one of my personal favorite touches of the Encore: Lobero scope — I can’t wait to see that iconic ceiling restored to its original jewel-tone glory.

Thanks to David Bazemore for the shots below —