Santa Barbara County Courthouse
Santa Barbara County Courthouse.jpg
Santa Barbara County Courthouse, exterior view from the clock tower, showing the Sunken Garden
Santa Barbara County Courthouse is located in California
Santa Barbara County Courthouse
Santa Barbara County Courthouse is located in the United States
Santa Barbara County Courthouse
LocationSanta Barbara, California
Coordinates34°25′27.66″N 119°42′8.86″W / 34.4243500°N 119.7024611°W / 34.4243500; -119.7024611Coordinates: 34°25′27.66″N 119°42′8.86″W / 34.4243500°N 119.7024611°W / 34.4243500; -119.7024611
Area4.65 acres (1.88 ha)
ArchitectJ Wilmer Hershey
NRHP reference No.81000177[1]
CHISL No.1037[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 23, 1981
Designated NHLApril 5, 2005[3]

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a Spanish Colonial Revival style building designed by William Mooser III[4] and completed in 1929. Architect Charles Willard Moore called it the "grandest Spanish Colonial Revival structure ever built," and the prime example of Santa Barbara's adoption of Spanish Colonial as its civic style.[3]

Located at 1100 Anacapa Street, in downtown Santa Barbara, California. the building replaced a smaller Greek Revival courthouse built there in 1872–88 and badly damaged in an earthquake on June 29, 1925.[5][6] The complex was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2005 for its architecture.[6]


Red tile roofs in Santa Barbara. Circular tower at center is the old County Jail.
Red tile roofs in Santa Barbara. Circular tower at center is the old County Jail.

The courthouse is composed of four buildings, totaling 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2). It includes a Jail Wing, which is no longer used to hold prisoners. Visitors may take elevators to the summit of the 85 ft (26 m) "El Mirador" clock tower, which has labeled photographs that show what the viewer is looking at in all directions.[4]

Currently, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is undergoing several restoration projects in the various wings, and just finished restoring the disintegrating fountain in the front.[5] In the past two years $150,000 was spent in maintenance and improvements.[7]

Occupying an entire city block, the grounds contain a collection of palms and specimen trees from more than 25 countries.[5] The courthouse hosts many events, particularly at the Sunken Garden, site of the 1872 courthouse. As of 2015, almost 7,000 visitors from 60 countries came to visit in the past year.[7]


The main entrance to the courthouse features a large façade depicting two enthroned figures; between the figures is an inscription of a Spanish translation of a quote from Marcus Terentius Varro. The equivalent English translation is found on the right door to the right.


See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "California Historical Landmark: Santa Barbara County". Office of Historic Preservation. California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  3. ^ a b NHL Summary Archived November 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b The Historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse Archived July 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Superior Court of California: Santa Barbara County.
  5. ^ a b c Santa Barbara County Courthouse Official Website Archived May 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b Santa Barbara County Courthouse. National Historic Landmark nomination. 2004.
  7. ^ a b Stevens, Kay (7 April 2015). "New Courthouse Docents". Santa Barabara Independent. Retrieved 8 May 2015.

Further reading