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The Lifeblood of the Museum

Without our dedicated staff, docents, volunteers, board and friends, the Drum Barracks could not exist

Drum Barracks Garrison & Society Board

It was a sad day in the mid 1960s when the historic old building was run down and dilapidated. A permit to demolish it and put up some new apartment buildings was requested. And the community of Wilmington was put on alert. A local treasure was about to be lost.

In 1966, the Society for Preservation of Drum Barracks was formed. People like Joan Lorenzen, Walter Holstein, John Holland, Felix Schmidt, Katy Papadakis and many more put in hours of time and effort, figuring out ways to save the old barracks building. Joan and Fred Lorenzen, along with their daughter Marga Jean Lorenzen Martin who was the official “Miss Drum Barracks,” were major fund raisers and forces in the creation and growth of the museum.

In 1968, the State of California purchased the building and grounds. Years went by and nothing was happening to improve the site. Again, the Wilmington community rallied, and worked with the City of Los Angeles to secure funding and support. In 1974, a thirty-year lease was signed by the City of los Angeles with the State of California. In that lease the City agreed to restore the building and grounds and open it as a public museum.

Fundraising continued and in 1976 and 1977, the work began. A massive restoration of the site took place with every effort made to retain as much as possible of the original building. Today, the results of that impressive historical effort reveal a structure with original floors, door and window frames and twin staircases. Every original piece of the building was retained, if possible. The walls, with plaster long past saving, were hand re-plastered to continue that historical accuracy. The building was brought up to code requirements and could be used by the public. Now the work of creating a museum began.

In 1965 the site was recommissioned and rededicated. In the 1970s it was opened for tours by appointment, and in September of 1987, it was opened to the public as a City of Los Angeles museum, the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum. Marge O’Brien was the first director. She began to organize the artifacts on hand and to locate and obtain those that would add to the new museum.

The group that was formed by the Wilmington community in 1966 to save the building from demolition was named the Society for Preservation of Drum Barracks. It is the parent group for the current Drum Barracks Garrison & Society, the 501(c)(3), non-profit group that supports the Museum and it’s programs and activities. Donations to the Garrison & Society are tax exempt.

Marge O’Brien continued as director until 1998 and in January 2000, Susan Ogle began as the second director at Drum Barracks.

A 50-year lease with the state was signed by the city in 2007, ensuring the museum will remain a treasure in the Wilmington community. Continuing improvements and maintenance are done, funded by the city and through grants. Lead abatement was done on the exterior walls, doors and windows of the building in 2003 and a new irrigation system was installed providing for beautiful grounds around the site. A new roof was installed in 2010. And we hope there is much more to come.

The Drum Barracks Civil War Museum is a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation.


Kathy Ralston, President

Kathy visited the Drum Barracks in 1996, and has served as a volunteer from that day on. In addition to President she also serves as newsletter editor and Gift Shop manager.  Kathy’s interest in Civil War history began when she was visiting Revolutionary War battlefields in Virginia. She then found her great-great grandfather was part of the Stonewall Brigade. Kathy lectures on multiple Civil War topics to Southern California Civil War Round tables, genealogy groups and historical societies. Kathy also serves as chairman for patriotic activities for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Sidney Lanier Chapter. Kathy holds a BS in Business Administration and has worked in the computer industry for more than 20 years.   She was previously a director for Smart & Final.


Jim Stanbery, Vice-President

Jim Stanbery is a history professor at Los Angeles Harbor College, where he also served as faculty president and won many outstanding teaching awards.  Jim is past assistant editor of Civil War Regiments and is active in the Civil War Round Tables of San Gabriel Valley and Orange County, as well as the San Pedro Bay Historical Society. He has published articles on western theater Civil War strategy and has spoken widely on Civil War topics in and outside California. Jim is the author of The California 2000 Campaign: The Populist Movement with a Meaning for all America.  Jim holds a B.A. (UC Berkeley) and M.A. (CSU, Long Beach). He also served two years in the Peace Corps.


Wayne Sherman, Treasurer

Wayne is a charter member of the West Coast Civil War Collectors, a member of the Company of Military Historians, a re-enactor with Co. A of the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry (the Cal 100). Wayne has researched and resurrected the persona of Los Angeles Civil War hero Charles Jenkins, and has spoken to many Civil War Round Tables throughout Southern California. Wayne is the Steward of Santa Inez Mission Mills State Historic Park in Solvang California as a staff member for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. He has run a successful contracting business in Santa Barbara since 1980.


Dean Smith, Secretary

Dean Smith is a third generation Los Angeles native. He earned his B.A, (1968), and M.A. (1970), degrees in Political Science, from the University of California, at Riverside. He had a 34-year career in public service, with Los Angeles County, and has been retired since 2004. Dean is a member of the Civil War Trust; office holder in the Gen. W. S. Rosecrans Camp No. 2, of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; and, is President of the Los Angeles Civil War Round Table.



Jack Babbitt, Jr.

Jack Babbitt is the President of the California Sulphur Co. He is very involved in the Wilmington community, and is currently on the Board of Directors and Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee for The Friends of Banning Museum.  Jack is also active in the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.


Ron Hyde

Ron is a grandfather and longtime volunteer at the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum. He assists with the volunteer training class, and serves as the President of the Orange County Civil War Round Table. In addition, Ron travels around the country with FEMA helping with disaster relief efforts. 


Michael L. Oddenino

Michael L. Oddenino is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia. When not practicing law, he gives history lectures on Civil War topics such as the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, Dred Scott, Slavery and the Origins of the U.S. Civil War and the Gettysburg Address. He is on the Board and Program Chair of the Pasadena Civil War Round Table. In addition to conducting lectures, he also delivers Patrick Henry’s speech, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.”


Earl Robinson

Earl’s Civil War memories go back to visiting "John Brown's lookout" and celebrating the War's centennial as a boy. He is a founding member of West Coast Civil War Collectors, owner of Reunion Civil War Antiques, and a regular exhibitor of original artifacts at national Civil War shows. Earl has also authored articles in North South Trader's Civil War and Military Images magazines and spoken to Civil War Round Tables throughout Southern California. His wife, Cathy, is a Virginian whose great grandfather was General George Pickett's orderly. Earl is the President of Omnica Corporation.

Michael Sorenson

Michael Sorenson has been a building contractor for 35 years and was named by the Association of Spa and Pool Professionals as one of the top 50 builders in the nation in 2014. He is married with four children and four grandchildren. He has been a collector of Civil War artifacts for 30 years and has a special interest in uniforms. In addition he is interested in the California Hundred and the California Battalion.