The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation received a state grant for $323,000 on Monday to fund the renovation of a resource center at the historic El Presidio de Santa Barbara.

Awarded by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE), the grant money will fund improvements to the Presidio’s community resource center, which houses a collection of artifacts, manuscripts and maps that reflect Santa Barbara history since the 18th century.

In preparation for the renovation, the center recently closed to the public, said public relations coordinator Jared Brach. He said the center will reopen by early 2007.

Brach said fundraising efforts for the center, located downtown at 123 E. Canon Perdido Street, started in 1999. There have been a number of financial setbacks in the renovation process, he said, but thanks to the grant money, along with private donations, the center will soon be completed.

According to Brach’s press release, restoration efforts will focus on the exterior of the 1928 Spanish colonial building – an addition to the original structure from the 1700s – and the woodwork in the interior of the building. In addition, the money will go toward conducting a seismic retrofit of the building.

After the restoration, Brach said many of the center’s resources will be available to the public for the first time. He said visitors and researchers will be able to come see and even handle the artifacts.

“We will be able to provide rotating educational exhibits year round,” Brach said. “We also hope to expand with more classroom visits and student participation of all ages.”

SBTHP Research Center Director Lee Goodwin, a UCSB history graduate student, said she hopes UCSB students will use the improved center for both research and educational purposes.

“The Resource Center has had a long and positive relationship with the university and students for research,” Goodwin said. “Thanks to the grant, there will be even more opportunities for students and faculty in the future.”

The funding came as a grant from the CCHE, a state agency that funds projects through a competitive grant process to educate people about social history in California, Brach said. The money will not only go to renovation of the facility, but will fund the expansion of a range of programs and material resources available for free to the public.

Brach said a number of groups applied for the grant, but the Trust won the money after they made a presentation of their proposed program to the CCHE. In addition to the grant money, The Trust’s renovations are funded by individual donations, private foundations, the City of Santa Barbara Redevelopment Agency and California State Parks.