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

What People are Saying: Encore: Lobero Preservation work, one year later

The Lobero Theatre: Newly Refurbished, bolder sound and history in between

Guest post by Emily Solomon

Whether you’re a native Santa Barbarian or you haven’t been in this beautiful paradise for very long, it’s likely you have  seen at least one show at the Lobero Theatre. It’s hard not to get addicted to the intimate atmosphere the theater provides, bringing anyone who crosses its path that much closer to the magic of live entertainment. After 140 years of award-winning performances, the recent “Encore: Lobero” preservation work of the Lobero Theatre has proved that the music truly still lives on in this historic landmark.

“Fantastic restoration of the theater. Thanks so much for preserving history for all to enjoy.”

In 2013, with the compassion and desire of board members and generous contributions from the Santa Barbara community, the renewal of the Lobero Theatre was ready to begin. This construction project was no small task. Because the theater has been around since 1873, it’s a historical landmark. The Foundation design team worked diligently with the Historic Landmarks Commission, historians and archivists to ensure that the changes to the Lobero Theatre would keep with the architectural integrity of the original theater. The Lobero Theatre was going to get a much-needed facelift with the following end goals: new seats, ceiling preservation work, interior painting, improved air flow, expanded restrooms and ADA compliance upgrades throughout.

“The Lobero is one of Santa Barbara’s crown jewels! I wanted to cry when I first saw what you have done for this beloved venue! Excellent work you guys!”

Today, every patron that walks through the beautiful Lobero Theatre is able to enjoy new, comfortable seats, a heating and air conditioning system that have improved airflow within the theater immensely. Restrooms have also been enlarged to meet today’s accessibility requirements. The theater is now equipped with eight wheelchair spaces and areas for companion seating. For hearing impaired patrons, the auditorium is now wired with Hearing Loop technology, allowing patrons wearing hearing aids to adjust their devices to amplify the sound to their comfort.

“Your new seats are sooo comfy!”

This is truly what makes supporters of the Lobero so special. No matter what walk of life you are, we all have the right to hear and appreciate the art of live performance. The Santa Barbara community understands that through and through.

The outside of the building has also undergone necessary changes too. The walkway to the main entry is now equipped with a compliant ramp and level landings at the top and bottom. The area where many people enjoy mingling on before and after shows, was redone to create a level area for patrons to gather safely. The Paseo at the side of the theater was re-paved with brick and a new ramp leading to the Green Room stairs,a nd side steps have been put in place to meet code.

“Beautiful historic feel, love the attention to detail.”

If you haven’t gotten the chance to experience the new and improved theater, there are some huge acts to check out. See for yourself why the Lobero Theatre is where the fantasy world of music lovers comes to life.

 

Read more audience comments:

  • “I love the Lobero. Wonderful facelift. Every time I am here, I feel the spirits. The place just resonates with wonderful energy.”
  •  The Lobero is the perfect size. Not too big, not too small. Perfect for a Tierney Sutton concert!!
  • Great remodel, especially the ‘loos!
  • I used to dance on the Lobero stage as a young girl. Fond memories and still my favorite theatre.
  • My family appreciates the theatre donating tickets to senior living facilities; my dad is able to participate in that.
  • Still the best musical venue in Santa Barbara.
  • You do a wonderful job of enriching my life and the lives in our community.
  • My first visit, but it’s beautiful! I love the seats and ceiling!
  • Just the right size venue. Every seat is a good seat. Beautiful interior, comfortable new seats and newly enlarged men’s restroom. Small town location and ‘feel.’
  • While the mission may be our Queen, the Lobero is definitely our Princess. So proud of our town and how the Lobero is this beautiful jewel in our crown.
  • How wonderful to see that the Lobero is still the fantastic, vibrant venue I remember! Kudos to all involved in preserving and enhancing of this fabulous theatre.
  • I moved here from Chicago a year and a half ago. I have seen amazing dance, music and films here. Thank you for all the wonderful events that help make me feel a part of the community.

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!

 

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.)

2011

In testament to the Lobero Theatre Foundation’s continued efforts to present quality jazz and American roots performances in a cherished historic setting, the Lobero Theatre is recognized in 2011 as one of the Best Places to See Jazz by DownBeat Magazine, the pre-eminent publication of the jazz and roots genre for the last 76 years

2006

The Foundation launches its Endowment for Excellence in 2006 in four areas: Dance, American Roots Music, Theatre and Classical Music. Proceeds from the endowment will ensure that the world’s finest performers continue to appear on the Lobero stage.

2004

In August 2004, the Lobero Theatre Foundation interred a new time capsule in the Lobero Courtyard, to be opened in twenty years for the Lobero’s 100th anniversary.

2003

In 2003, Churchill’s Jewelry store owner Dick Kern discovered an old trombone in the attic of his building, once a music store. Instrument expert Nick Rail confirms that it may have belonged to Jose Lobero. It is placed on view in the Lobero Theatre lobby.

2001

Courtyard Fund was kicked off in February 2001. Over the next two years, the Lobero Associates raised more than $265,000 for the beautification of the back patio. Construction began mid-March and was completed on time and on budget on June 28, 2003. The patio is now used for receptions, dinners and special events.

2000

In 2000, the Lobero Theatre Foundation embarked on an ambitious plan to renovate the most fundamental aspects of any theatre’s infrastructure: the lighting, rigging and sound systems. The stage renovation is completed on-budget and in plenty of time for a return visit by Baryshnikov for five sold-out performances in May 2002.

1998

Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov took the stage for five special solo evenings at the Lobero in 1998. The Lobero is by far the smallest venue the dancer has appeared in for over 25 years.

1997

On August 19, 1997, the City of Santa Barbara’s Redevelopment Agency forgave a $468,000 loan for the seismic work.

1996

In June 1996, the Lobero Theatre Foundation received the deed to the theatre from the County of Santa Barbara. The Lobero Theatre Foundation now owns the theatre, which it has operated since 1938.

1993

The state-mandated seismic renovation of the Lobero Theatre began in 1993 and took more than four years to complete. Over 4,600 gifts from the community were received to reach the $3 million goal for the project.

1949

December 1949 is when the first jazz performance is presented on the Lobero stage, kicking off a long and enduring legacy as Santa Barbara’s premier destination for live jazz.

1938

In 1938 the Lobero Theatre Foundation was incorporated as a 501 (c 3) organization and to this day manages, maintains, preserves and programs the Lobero Theatre.

1925

The theatre’s Mediterranean style was adopted as an architectural model after the 1925 earthquake.

1924

On August 4, 1924, today’s Lobero opened its doors with a gala production of Beggar on Horseback. Santa Barbara celebrated the opening with the inaugural Fiesta which was the predecessor of today’s Fiesta and Old Spanish Days.

1922

In 1922 the Community Arts Association purchased the old Lobero, which had fallen into disrepair, and turned to the community for the support to build a new theatre. Over $180,000 was raised in less than a month, and plans for a new theatre, designed by George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs, began.

1873

On Washington’s Birthday 1873, Jose Lobero (born “Giuseppe” in Genoa, Italy) opened California’s only opera house south of San Francisco on the site of an old wooden schoolhouse at Canon Perdido and Anacapa streets. It featured a suspended horseshoe balcony and could seat 1,300. At the time of its opening, the Lobero was the largest adobe building in California and soon established itself as the cultural heart of Santa Barbara.