Born April 4, 1937 in Milwaukee, Kathi Brewster lived in the Midwest until 1961, when her husband’s General Motors job transfer took them out West to Santa Barbara. In 1963 she started taking adult education courses at Santa Barbara City College, participating in art classes in the building that would become the current Presidio Research Center. Her stories of clay on the floor and paint brushes scattered put a completely different perspective into the Research Center’s current reading room and archival space. Kathi’s interest in local history inspired her to go back to school. She started taking courses at Santa Barbara City College, and by 1985, she had both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Latin American history from UCSB. Starting at the Santa Barbara Historical Society as a docent, Kathi took her interest in Latin American studies to interpretive tours and efforts at the Trust as one of its first docents. An acquaintance of Pearl Chase, she became heavily involved in the Trust and its evolving docent program; in 2012, she was the presented with the Pearl Chase Historic Preservation and Conservation Award from the SBTHP. Her expertise spans from creating Architectural Walking Tours of downtown Santa Barbara to co-founding the History Associates of UCSB, her ever-expanding enthusiasm for the community and its history is both inspiring and remarkable.
Above Photo: Kathi with interviewer Barbara Lindemann in the Presidio Research Center (May 2012).
Clip 1: Kathi describes the excitement in restoring Casa de la Guerra. Charles Storke II, a benefactor of the Casa, was nervous that the Casa would never open because archaeologists were constantly finding new artifacts!
Clip 2: Kathi remembers moving to Santa Barbara in 1961 and her self-guided walking tours of the area to get acquainted, encompassing some Presidio neighborhood favorites such as Jimmy’s and El Cuartel.
Clip 3: Pearl Chase was known for her ferocity and wit; here, Kathi recalls her first unsuccessful attempt to say no to Ms. Chase. Jetlag or no jetlag, you come to see Pearl when she calls!
Clip 4: Her curious daughter, Valerie, brought the SBTHP to Kathi’s attention in 1967with her adolescent interest in archaeology; luckily mom’s interest was piqued, too!
Clip 5: Kathi recalls both the pottery classes in the Presidio Research Center and her turn receiving the pot-of-the-week tribute that the best students received.
Kathi has also been featured on the SBTHP's blog here.
*To hear the entire oral history interview or additional clips, please make an appointment with the Presidio Research Center at (805) 966-5073.
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Also Present: Anne Petersen