Friday, February 23 , 2018, 1:20 pm | Fair 58º


Foundation Looks to Lift ‘Spirit’ of Courthouse Fountain

Community support is needed to raise the rest of the estimated $410,000 restoration cost.




The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is one of Santa Barbara’s most beautiful and recognizable sights. The Courthouse is also one of the community’s most photographed landmarks, most frequented by tourists, and most vital to Santa Barbara’s functions, heritage and history.


What may come as a surprise to the community is the deterioration that has occurred to the building in the past seven decades. During the preparation of state and national landmark applications, extensive damage was discovered that would require major restoration and preservation.

The county focuses solely on general maintenance of the Courthouse and does not have the resources to restore and repair architectural features that have deteriorated over time. As a result, the Courthouse Legacy Foundation was established in 2004 by a small group of committed residents, led by former 1st District Supervisor Naomi Schwartz.

The goal of CLF is to educate and involve the community in fund raising to address preservation and conservation needs of the Courthouse now and in the future. CLF is urgently looking for community support for its efforts to restore the “Spirit of the Ocean” fountain.  The fountain is in critical need of either restoration or replacement with a more durable material.

“Over the last 77 years, water damage and surface wear has occurred because of weather and use by the general public,” said Jennifer Ono, CLF’s executive director. “Every few months the fountain fractures, which requires a professional conservation team to travel to Santa Barbara to repair. Over the past 20 years, there have been numerous emergency stone conservation interventions to keep the stone from complete failure."

The cost to completely restore the fountain is estimated at $410,000. So far, CLF has raised $125,000. CLF is hoping the community will acknowledge this need for historic restoration and support its efforts to save this special piece of the Courthouse.


For almost 80 years, the Courthouse has been the home of local government and a place of civic pride and celebration. While it appears beautiful from a distance, a closer look will reveal there is much to be repaired, including crumbling sandstone and cracking tiles, to defaced murals and fading paint.

CLF already has accomplished the successful restoration of the historic Theodore Van Cina murals; five of the 8-by-16-foot canvas murals are now hanging together for the first time in the upstairs Figueroa Gallery. However, more work lies ahead: restoration or replacement of the fountain, mural room conservation, and exterior sandstone and cast stone detailing repair. It is estimated that necessary restoration to the building will take as long as 15 years and cost up to $40 million.

The Courthouse Legacy Foundation was created to preserve and authentically restore the Courthouse. Click here for more information, call 805.886.7092 or visit 1100 Anacapa St., East Wing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >