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Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 7:45 am | Fog/Mist 49º


Courthouse Legacy Foundation Supporters Spend ‘An Evening Under the Grand Arch’

Intimate gathering raises $100,000 toward the restoration of the historic Santa Barbara landmark


Supporters of the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation gathered for “An Evening Under the Grand Arch,” an intimate gathering to raise funds for the restoration of the grand arch facing Anacapa Street.

The nonprofit organization hit a milestone by raising $100,000 toward the $300,000 goal required to complete the restoration of the historic landmark.

Established in 2004, the Courthouse Legacy Foundation, remains dedicated to the conservation, preservation and restoration of the beloved courthouse. It is run by an all-volunteer board whose year-round efforts raise funds to ensure that the courthouse’s legacy and historic significance remain.

“The County of Santa Barbara owns the courthouse, but is only able to finance basic upkeep,” board of trustees president Jan Ferrell said. “All the restoration work that needs to be done on the building is paid for by the money raised by the Courthouse Legacy Foundation.”

Shortly before sunset, attendees were greeted by volunteers from the CLF board under the elegant arch on the main level of the courthouse.

Inside the foyer, scented candles, floral arrangements centered on decorative tables, and melodies from a classical string quartet enhanced the mood of the evening.

Sixty-plus guests were seated at tables and benches, while others mingled to enjoy an abundance of libations and hor d'oeuvres.

Exclusive access to the El Mirador observation deck of the clock tower was granted at sunset with guided tours from docents. The tours included the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery installed in 1929 and still operating today. The 60-foot mural depicting the history of timekeeping was one of the many perks available to guests.

Designated as a national historic landmark in 2005, the still-functioning courthouse and community center is a scenic treasure in the community that hosts thousands of visitors annually.

An influx of foot traffic coupled with the natural decay of the building requires the infrastructure, such as the Grand Arch — which spans the passageway between Anacapa Street and the Sunken Garden — to undergo structural evaluations, repairs and alterations.

Courthouse Legacy Foundation
The Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation’s “An Evening Under the Grand Arch” raised $100,000 toward the restoration project. (Courthouse Legacy Foundation photo)

“Twenty years ago, a white coating that was sprayed on the arch in the hopes of protecting it had the opposite effect,” Ferrell said. “Water is trapped in the sandstone, which is making it deteriorate from the inside. The mortar joints are cracked and failing, and major portions of the large stones at the bottom section need to be replaced.”

Restoration work done to the historic landmark is no small feat, and the foundation takes great care to commission specialists and masons in the field of historic preservation.

“After the white coating is removed, we will then hire local masonries to repair the mortar and stones,” Ferrell said. “We want people to enjoy this courthouse and to cherish it as much as we do.”

The project already is underway thanks to gifts from the Outhwaite Foundation, the Pearl Chase Society, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the County of Santa Barbara, the Docent Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as several community donors.

CLF now is seeking the help of the entire community to achieve its remaining fundraising goal to complete the restoration of the Grand Arch. Click here for more information, and save the date for the Viva La Fiesta! ninth annual Fiesta Party on Aug. 3.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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