Out and About with SBGirl – Santa Barbara Courthouse
I grew up in Texas but I now call the beautiful beach town of Santa Barbara home. I’m going to be a tourist in my own town and I invite you to come out and about with me. If you have requests or suggestions of other Santa Barbara Views I should check out, please add them to the comments. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy!
The Santa Barbara Courthouse is arguably the most beautiful working government building in the United States. Not only is it home to Civil, Family Law, Juvenile, Probate, Appeals, Small Claims and Superior Court Administration, it is also a bastion for civic pride and celebration.
Occupying an entire city block, the Spanish Colonial Revival structure was built after the original, smaller Greek-Revival courthouse was damaged in the 1925 earthquake. The grounds contain a collection of palms and specimen trees from more than 25 countries and features the lovely Sunken Garden, built on the site of the original 1872 courthouse, where hundreds of special events and weddings take place every year.
Visitors can climb the stairs or ride an elevator to the 85-foot “El Mirador” clock tower for extraordinary 360 degree views of the city, coast and mountains. The Clock Room was recently lovingly restored by clock enthusiasts and historians who rebuilt one of few remaining Seth Thomas mechanically driven tower clocks and brought it back to its original glory. Other highlights of this impressive courthouse include the stunning Mural Room, boasting floor-to-ceiling Groesbeck murals depicting California’s early history, a glided and hand stenciled ceiling and 1,000 pound chandeliers, the “Spirit of the Ocean” fountain that was painstakingly hand carved from sandstone and replaced the original fountain that had been badly damaged from years of exposure, and striking tile and iron work throughout the building.
Docent lead tours occur daily (except Sunday) at 2pm beginning in the Mural Room and are free. Additional tours occur at 10:30am Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Special tours dates and times can be accommodated by request.