Out & About: The Santa Barbara Courthouse

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!
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IMG_0140The 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.

IMG_0142Visitors 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.

It’s not every day that a local courthouse is on the “must-see” list for tourists and locals alike, but in Santa Barbara it is! What’s your favorite part or memory of the Santa Barbara Courthouse?
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About SB Girl

Hi, I’m SBGirl. 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. My posts will combine my love of what makes Santa Barbara special with a little bit of history mixed in. Personally, I enjoy a place even more when I know its past. I think it just makes the experience a little more interesting. I hope you enjoy these posts from wherever you happen to live and that maybe you will be inspired to explore the places and history around you! Thanks for reading.

5 Responses to Out & About: The Santa Barbara Courthouse

  1. Anonymous August 20, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Thank you for this. What an extraordinary building with art and achitecture like no other. And the recent opening of the clock room shows the amount of care and dedication still given this stately building. Lovely, and I look forward to more of your views.

  2. Renewal August 20, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    May we yet again return to the days when local government meant working together for the non-partisan good of everyone in the community. Think about the community that came together to build this marvelous structure of the future generations of this town they would never know to still enjoy.

  3. Suan August 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    What a treasure and I know a lot of people get married there too!

  4. SBGirl August 20, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Thanks for the kind words Anonymous. I can’t wait for my next adventure!

    Renewal, and Suan — marvelous and treasure are fitting descriptions for this jewel of Santa Barbara!

  5. Quiet Dog August 20, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    Thank you Renewal for your kind, articulate words about sharing and enjoying a sense of community. The visionary thinkers back then were good stewards for our kids and grandkids.