Friday, November 27 , 2015, 3:01 am | Overcast 46º

Courthouse Legacy Foundation Gets in the Spirit with Fiesta Party

Fundraiser benefits the preservation and restoration of the historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Courthouse Legacy Foundation founding trustee Robert Ooley, left, with trustees Carol Fell and Rodney Baker at CLF’s Fiesta party at the courthouse.
Courthouse Legacy Foundation founding trustee Robert Ooley, left, with trustees Carol Fell and Rodney Baker at CLF’s Fiesta party at the courthouse.  (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety |

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

The spirit of Old Spanish Days Fiesta was dramatically captured at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for the Courthouse Legacy Foundation's fundraiser benefiting the preservation and restoration of the historic building.

“This is our fourth Fiesta party, and we think this is an annual event that everybody likes to come to because it’s so much fun to be in the courthouse during Fiesta time,” said CLF board trustee, Bill Mahan, AIAE.

This world-famous building receives critical funding from the Courthouse Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 2004, governed by a Board of Trustees whose mission is to conserve and restore artistic features of the courthouse.

Santa Barbara County cannot afford the funds it takes to restore and maintain the facility, so the special Fiesta event — and other events throughout the year — are put on by the Courthouse Legacy Foundation with the sole purpose of raising funds for the restoration of the courthouse and to conserve and restore artistic features of the courthouse.

Supporters arrived donning Fiesta and western attire to join in an intimate gathering of fine food with the flavors of margaritas, cocktails and Mexican cuisine.

This exclusive party also provided a private tour of the national landmark with bird's-eye views of the Las Noches de Ronda entertainment — song, folklorica and flamenco dancing — below in the Sunken Garden. Guests rode an elevator to the 85-foot “El Mirador” clock tower viewing area to enjoy remarkable views of the city and watch the talented lineup of fiery Flamenco dancers.

The CLF event commenced with cocktails and delectable treats served just outside of the historic Mural Room, and guests were invited to mingle, eat and lounge at a table set up inside the room. Talia Ortega Vestal, 2014 Spirit of Fiesta, also treated guests to a special intimate dance performance.

Located on the second floor of the courthouse, the Mural Room was originally developed as the assembly room for the county Board of Supervisors, which gathered in the historic site for more than 30 years, until 1967. The courthouse was later remodeled to include courtrooms with social spaces and is now open to the public for tours, civic events, fundraising events, weddings and Fiesta.

“This is the wind-up event to finalize the restoration of the mural room — that entails restoring the whole mural on all four walls, the ceiling, the chandeliers if they need any work, and the benches. Everything that needs to be taken care of in the mural we’re going to do,” Mahan told Noozhawk. “This event will finalize our fundraising campaign and we believe we have the funds necessary. It started last year in January, and we’re going to begin the restoration next Jan. 5, 2015.”

Wrought-iron chandeliers enhance the 4,200-square-foot hand-painted mural depicting the history of Santa Barbara and California in a romanticized fashion by artist Daniel Sayre Groesbeck. The mural depicts the history of the Chumash Indians, who have lived in the area for more than 10,000 years, observing the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Also included is a reference to the Count of Monterey sending Sebastian Vizcaino to the Santa Barbara Channel on Dec. 4, 1602. Vizcaino named the channel and eventually the surrounding Santa Barbara area.

The courthouse, designed in a Spanish-Moore style in 1929 by a father and son team of architects, William Mooser I and II, was originally constructed after the 1929 earthquake destroyed the former Greek revival courthouse as two courtrooms located in the Figueroa Wing.

Thanks to the many friends of the courthouse, the Courthouse Legacy Foundation has raised more than $1 million to refurbish and repair structures at the courthouse, including the Heraldic Paintings on the Ceiling of the Great Archway (2010), the Spirit of the Ocean Fountain (2011) and the Tower Clock (2012).

Click here to donate a tax-exempt gift to the Courthouse Legacy Foundation.

Other upcoming events include the first ever Miniature Golf Tournament benefiting CLF to be held on the lawn of the courthouse along Anacapa and Figueroa streets on Sept. 12, with nine challenging holes. And on Sunday, Sept. 13, the event continues with a match open to the public.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz

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