Wednesday, October 17 , 2018, 8:24 am | Fair 52º


Restoration Taking Shape on Fountain at Santa Barbara Courthouse

Carving nears completion, with the first sandstone block to be placed this week

During the past seven months, a small army of stone carvers has been working diligently under the cover of a white tent on the front lawn of the Santa Barbara Courthouse to re-create the Spirit of the Ocean Fountain.

Thousands of hours later and with the generous support of the community, the carving is nearing completion. As soon as Thursday, the first of seven carved sandstone blocks will be moved into position to take its place in a new life of delighting the more than 150,000 annual visitors to the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

The Spirit of the Ocean Fountain is a popular spot for visitors to take pictures, and for the past few years that opportunity had been crumbling away — one grain of sand at a time — until the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation accelerated its plan to replace the failing sculpted piece.

The project began in 2004 with the Fountain Team researching the location of the original stone quarry that provided the original stone used on the courthouse and fountain; tracking down historic photographs and preparing a full-size foam replica to be used during the carving operation.

Next was the logistics planning to get the stone from the mountain to the courthouse front lawn, organize the carving “studio” and secure the needed funding.

Ultimately, the project team became a group of 15 individuals with responsibility over four main areas: research, funding, execution and project management. The project is scheduled to be complete by July 4, with a celebration event to be announced soon. The Santa Barbara Courthouse is a City of Santa Barbara Historic Landmark, on the National Register and a state and national historic landmark.

The Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to conserve, preserve and restore the architectural features of the Santa Barbara Courthouses for visitors — building on a legacy is their goal.

— George Thurlow represents the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation.

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