Santa Barbara has one of the most architecturally significant old courthouses in the state. Although not nearly amongst the oldest surviving courthouse in the state, having been built completed in 1929, it is unique in being a very large, extremely detailed and impressive Mission Revival structure with open courtyard, open hallways, and a tower open to the public that provides excellent views of the city.
Due to its recognized status and popularity as a tourist attraction, the building is open to the public for touring, even on weekends, which is unusual for a courthouse.
Don't expect me to write down what we may learn in the official page of the courthouse.
I only tell you my great impression about the building. In a country where the attempts to copy European styles sometimes lead to disaster, due to the American cultural "obligation" of doing everything big and spectacular, this building has an absolute harmony and balanced proportion.
Used to see courthouses that evidence austerity and severity, the main feeling in this place is... sensibility.
And that is important also in justice!
The Santa Barbara Court House is positively gorgeous. The classic spanish architecture is amazing and gives you a firm appreciation for the beauty this town really possesses. I travel to Santa Barbara often and sometimes it's just nice to sit in the courtyard and have lunch or walk passed it. Also every time I come to town I stay at one of Santa Barbara's best kept secret, The Sandman Inn (www.thesandmaninn.com). The location is great and so are the prices! Incredibly reasonable. Just a tip!
The Mural Room is perhaps the Courthouse's most renowned attraction, with 6700 square feet of hand-painted murals and two wrought iron chandeliers weighing in at more than 1000 pounds! An intricate beamed ceiling and an equally elaborate double entrance rounds out a room that rarely fails to impress the unsuspecting first time visitor. We would have very likely missed this if not for our local friend, VTER Ernst (worldtrekker).
The ornately tiled seating area inside the main entrance feature imports from Tunisia, adding even more luster and some color to the Spanish-Moorish design of the building.
The Clocktower provides an 80 foot climb and grand views over the Historic Old Town of Santa Barabara.
The Historic Courthouse is one of Santa Barbara's charming old buildings that can be visited for free. The original structure dates back to 1850 but as with most of the town, it was destroyed in the 1925 earthquake. What stands today is the result of a series of constructions but effortlessly brings the visitor back to another time whether in its courtyard or visiting some of its impressive interiors.
The biggest surprise here was that it was free to go up. Almost any place that attracts this amount of visitors would normally charge... but to my surprise... no charge! It's real easy to find this place and parking is quite easy to find, no need to park at a pay lot. Obviously going up the tower for the view is the main thing to do... but don't ignore the amazing architecture of the building as well as the fountain outside.
Now, once you go up, you're treated to panoramic views of Santa Barbara. They are helpful guides to identify which building is which. Amazing photographic opportunities can be found here. This is the highest point in the city.
The Santa Barbara Courthouse is one of the more beautiful locations in the city. Walk the grounds and soak in the sun, stroll through the main hallway looking up at the wood beamed ceiling and intricate designs throughout, or take a trip to the top of the clock tower to be treated with a good Arial view of State Street, the ocean, the mountains, and the mission. Being able to spend my lunch hour eating on the grassy lawn helped to break up the long days of jury duty, and could offer a good way to slow down for a moment and take a break from State Street, the shopping and whatever else may fill your days.
This place was built in 1929, with a beautiful architecture and hand-painted ceilings, chandeliers, giant murals, imported tiles give this relatively new building an ancient feel. There is also the beautiful tropical garden that is used as a place to concerts and festivals.
This building is still a functional courthouse where lawyers and judges handle judicial business, which is very amazing.
The ascent to the tower is great because you will have a fantastic view of the city, you will be able to appreciate the architecture and even the sea, to go upstairs you will have to arrived before 4 pm because after could be closed.
Guided tours, Mon-Sat 2pm and Mon, Tues and Fri 10:30am.
Open weekdays 8:00am-5pm Saturday, Sunday, holidays 10am-5pm.
No trip to the courthouse would be complete without an ascent to the tower, which offers 360 degree views of the city, mountains, ocean and on a clear day the islands. You will probably recognize the famous arches from numerous television and print shots. The tower closes early, however, so make sure to get there by 3:30 or 4 p.m. at the latest.
This magnificent Spanish-Moorish "palace" was built in 1929 and is surrounded by lawns and a sunken tropical garden that plays host to many functions through out the year. Hardly a Sunday afternoon goes by that a festival, concert or get together of some sort isn't taking advantage of the beauty of this setting.
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is truly a unique civic building. It is a working courthouse and houses many county government offices. Yet, the building is also a museum of the Spanish-Moorish architecture style that predominates in the community. This stairway, for example, looks as if it would be at home in Fez or Marrakech, but is used every day by ordinary citizens going about their business in the county building.
Like much of California, Santa Barbara's history has been shaped by the devastation of earthquakes. In 1925 a major earthquake laid waste to much of Santa Barbara. The city rebuilt with a vengeance and the leading design was that for the new courthouse. Befitting its Spanish heritage, Santa Barbara turned to a San Francisco architect (William Mooser III) who was greatly influenced by his many years in Spain to draw plans for the courthouse in what was known as Spanish-Moorish design. It was completed in 1929, just as the country was perched on the precipice of the Great Depression.
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse has a unique architecture, in particular, with a Spanish flavor. The courthouse is a must-see because this is probably the only place around here where you can get a 360-degree view of Santa Barbara from the tower. From the tower you can see the ocean, the beach, the mountains, the city, and even islands. Remember this actually a fully-functioning courthouse right now.
The County Courthouse is often described as "historic." Well, it is that and more. It's architectural style is Spanish-Moorish. It has an 80-foot clock tower. It is surrounded by gardens. Inside are giant murals, rare art, hand-painted ceilings, historical artifacts, and others. I particularly liked the fact that you can go up the clock tower and have a low-flying eagle's view of the city.
The courthouse was built in 1929 and is an excellent example of Spanish-Moorish style architecture.
The interiors are decorated with beautiful, colorful Tunisian tiles, murals, ornately carved doors and archways.