Due to COVID-19, we regret the Preston Castle will be closed through December 31, 2020.

Please check back for the most up-to-date information about tours and events for 2021.

Meet the Board

Join Us

Foundation Board Meeting

First Wednesday of the Month, 6:30 PM

Ione Fire Station #2, 600 Preston Ave., Ione, CA

The Preston Castle Foundation’s

Board of Directors

Karl Knobelauch

Karl Knobelauch

President

I spent my grade school years in Omaha, Nebraska where I was born.  My family moved to the suburbs of San Francisco when I was entering junior high school.  While attending Sacramento State College I met my wife Patty, who is a fifth generation member of an Ione farming family.  We married after college and lived in Novato, California.  We moved to the family farm outside of Ione in 1981.  In 2006 I retired after a thirty-seven year career in local law enforcement.

During the last thirty years of living in Ione the Preston Castle has been the iconic symbol of Ione’s history.  I see the Preston Castle from the back of my house and every time I drive into Ione.  After I retired I decided that I wanted to give some of my time to preserving the Preston Castle, so that future generations will be able to see the place where California started to bring a better future for youthful offenders. 

Karl serves on the Events, Finance, Site Development, Bylaws, and Kitchen Committees.

Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett

Vice President

I was born and raised in Amador a county. I started very young in the fire service and the auto parts industry. The fire service has always been my first love.

I now am a full time fire apparatus engineer with the City of Ione Fire Department. I got involved with the Preston castle about 5 years ago when the fire chief had us staff an engine for the Haunt. Since then I have taken on many other projects with the castle as far as minor repairs and the committee chair for the Preston Castle Haunt.

This year I also have become a board member with the Preston Castle Foundation. I have a true love for public service and the castle. Once it gets in your blood it is hard not to love it. I am married with 2 adult sons and reside in Ione.

Barbara Murray

Barbara Murray

Treasurer

I was born in Sacramento so I am a native California girl. When my maternal great grandfather came to the United States from Yugoslavia, he settled in Plymouth and worked in the mines. My family has a long history in the Sacramento and Amador Counties area.

In 1981, my husband and I relocated our family from the bay area to Pioneer. When we left the bay area, I was a clerk typist at an elementary school in Santa Clara County. After several months of living in Pioneer, I took a job as an instructional aide at Sutter Creek Elementary School. My career with Amador County Schools lasted 31 years. The aide position led to a secretarial position and after 5 years, I moved to the district office as administrative assistant for Business Services. Ten years later, I was promoted to Director of Fiscal Services and then served as Assistant Superintendent of Business Services until my retirement in 2010.

The opportunity to serve as Treasurer for the Preston Castle Foundation has come my way. It is a wonderful opportunity to work with dedicated people and to work towards the restoration of beautiful and historic Preston Castle. I am proud to be a part of this great endeavor.

Barbara serves on the Finance Committee.

Jamie Armstrong

Jamie Armstrong

Secretary

I have been involved with Preston Castle since 2014, starting with the Halloween Haunt. I quickly took to the castle and extended my volunteer efforts to historical tours, and have chaired many of the fundraising events throughout the year.

My volunteer duties include being a part of the Preston Castle Board of Directors, while holding a full time position as the Executive Director of the Amador County Chamber of Commerce. My ability to coordinate, and manage different people and personalities has lead me to the role of beloved haunt mom for the last 3 years, and hopefully more to come.

Sybil Griffith

Sybil Griffith

I was born in San Francisco, but moved to Ione at age 3 when my Dad was hired as a Parole Agent for The Preston School of Industry. I attended school in Ione, then struck out on my own for a number of years before moving back to Ione. I got a job with the Amador County Office of Education as an Instructional Assistant for Special Education.

Several life changes occurred that eventually led to my current life in Ione with my husband Preston. I am still working as an Instructional Assistant and am currently at Ione Elementary School.
Several years ago I was approached by a Preston Castle Foundation member at an event at the Castle. She said that giving tours for the Castle would be a perfect fit for me. I decided to become a docent, received training, and started leading historical tours. I really enjoyed it and started getting involved in more and more of the events at the Castle. In 2014 I was asked to become a “person in charge” on tour days and took that on whole heartedly. I am responsible for running tour days once or twice a month during tour season.

I am currently on the tours committee and was recently put in charge of docent scheduling and elected as a board member. The Preston School of Industry will always have a special place in my heart. It brought me to Ione and was a large part of my life growing up. I started volunteering as a tribute to my Dad who retired from PSI and passed away from cancer in 2010. I’ve continued my volunteering because I love it.
Sybil serves on the Tours Committee.

Rod W. Burton, III

Rod W. Burton, III

I was born in Columbus, OH and raised in Pittsburgh, PA where my family was in the steel business. I received my bachelor’s degree in History from Roanoke College in Virginia and my Juris Doctorate from UOP McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, CA. After practicing law for a large firm in the valley for many years, I opened up a small law firm in Sutter Creek where I live. I also work at a local winery on weekends.

I am in agreement with the rest of board, in my feeling that Preston Castle represents the “preeminent landmark in Amador County” and an important part of the County’s rich history. I am honored to sit on the Board to assist it in any way I can to help preserve and restore this majestic building.

Rod serves on the Grants Committee

Richard Forster

Richard Forster

I was born in South Laguna, California, but have lived in Amador County since 1975 and am a proud fifth generation Californian. I graduated from Ione High School, and the University of California, Davis, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Managerial Economics. Besides representing District II on the Amador County Board of Supervisors, I work for the California Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Justice.

I have also served on the Amador Water Agency Board of Directors, the Ione Planning Commission, and the Ione Technical Advisory Committee. I am past President of the Native Sons of the Golden West, Ione #33, the Amador/El Dorado/Sacramento Cattlemen’s Association, the Amador County Fair Board of Directors, and the Ione Picnic Association. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Ione Business & Community Association and the Sutter Amador Hospital Foundation Board, and am a member of the Ione Rotary. I am also a former Chairman of the Regional Council of Rural Counties (RCRC), an organization representing the interests of 31 rural counties.

My wife and I are strong supporters of the efforts to preserve and rehabilitate the magnificent Preston Castle.

Richard serves on the Finance and Donations Committees.

Bill Thiry

Bill Thiry

I’m originally from Chicago, but my family moved to Southern California and then to Northern California.

As a youth I was very active in the Boy Scouts and earned my Eagle Scout award in 1976. I graduated from Moreau High School in Hayward and attended college at Ohlone JC in Fremont.

I was in the Transportation industry most of my life as a Trucking Owner Operator, Dispatcher and Terminal Manager, and then General Manager for BTI Trucking in Stockton. I served as President and helped build the Calaveras Youth Soccer League along with coaching girls soccer for the league and Calaveras HS.

I moved to Ione in 2008 after BTI was sold, and started my own Window Cleaning business. I first visited the Castle as a tour guest. I immediately felt connected and volunteered to help restore and clean the windows at the Castle. One thing led to another and I started helping more and more with projects and functions and also became a tour Docent which I absolutely enjoy. The history of the Castle, along with the architecture and the dream of seeing the building restored has drawn me in even further.

I am Proud to serve on the Preston Castle Foundation Board of Directors.

Bill is the Location Manager for the Foundation working with Television and Film production companies using the Castle for their projects, along with serving on the Building, Tours, Kitchen and Events Committees.

Donna Munson

Donna Munson

Born in Michigan, I grew up an “army brat”, traveling & living all over the U.S. Tired of snow, we came to Sacramento when my dad retired. I graduated from Elk Grove High School, then attended Sac City College while working for the State of California. I then worked at the Sacramento Army Depot until I joined the Army myself. After training, I was assigned to Nuremberg, Germany, where I met my husband to be, who was from lone. In 1976 we were married & came home to meet each other’s family; that was when I had my first up-close visit to the Preston Castle. It was condemned & in terrible shape, but was such a beautiful building that I was instantly hooked!

There were several more visits over the years, but raising a family & working at the USPS took up all my time. In 2010, after an early retirement, I learned that tours were being given through the castle, so I took one & found the volunteer opportunity that I had been looking for! I’ve now been a docent at Preston since 2011, leading hundreds of visitors through Preston Castle & sharing it’s history. I enjoy talking to people from all over & seeing the expressions on their faces as they take in the magnificence of the Castle for the first time. I’m proud of being a PCF board member & sharing in the restoration of this beautiful building with a dedicated group of volunteers who give so much of their time & love. No matter how often I see Preston Castle, I still get goosebumps every time -1 hope that feeling never goes away!

Connie Brenner

Connie Brenner

I am a native of Sacramento, CA where I currently reside with my husband Matt, who I married in 2000 and our only child, Shawn who was born in 2004. After many years from graduating high school, I obtained my A.S. degree by studying Veterinary Technology in 2015.

My first visit to Preston Castle was around 2008 where attended a paranormal tour and I have been in complete awe since! It has such an amazing and interesting history! Over the years I have become more involved by volunteering at several events such as the Halloween Haunt, Christmas, joining the Paranormal Team, and now I am honored to be apart of the board of the Castle Foundation.

David Barnes

David Barnes

Yolanda Bennett

Yolanda Bennett

Yolanda Bennett a recent addition to the Preston Castle Foundation, Yolanda first became involved in the Preston Castle Haunt 4 years ago. Quickly developing a love for the history of the castle she has also been involved in several other events throughout the year.

Yolanda works as a full time hairstylist in Jackson at 49 Hair Design, is involved as a volunteer with the Ione Fire Department. Her and her husband Jim have 2 adult boys and enjoy getting out in their RV as much as they can. 

Chris Garbarini

Chris Garbarini

I am an Italian/Irish local from Jackson born and raised. My family began their roots right before the gold rush over 150 years ago, My great-great uncle has ties to the Kennedy and Argonaut Mine as well as my Grandfather who owned the Ledger Dispatch. I have lived in the area my entire life, attending Jackson Elementary, Jackson Junior High School and Argonaut High School. After graduating I attended Delta College and transferred Sacramento State where I graduated with a B.A. in English. I am currently a student at the Teachers College of San Joaquin completing my teaching credential and working on my Masters degree in Educational Theory.

I grew up in Jackson and teach for Amador County Unified School District. I teach social studies and humanities at Independence High School. My wife and I live in one of the homes that was formally built for employees of The Preston School of Industry. In the summer of 2014 my wife was asked to volunteer at the castle as a docent and it was during that time she asked if I wanted to come over and check it out. I was hooked and wanted to volunteer as much as I could. I started as a historical docent helping on saturday’s and soon was volunteering my time to help with the Halloween haunt, Old Tyme Christmas and any and every event that needs help. I am also currently co-leading the new paranormal tours with Connie Brenner revamping the program with help from the board..

I am honored to serve on the Preston Foundation Board of Directors and hope to serve the castle and its members well, while trying to restore this amazing piece of California History. I was elected as a board member last year and hope to be a part of the board for many years to come helping restore and maintain this beautiful historical landmark.

Get In Touch

Location: 900 Palm Dr, Ione, CA 95640

Telephone: (209) 256-3623

Email: info@prestoncastle.org

Preston Castle Foundation