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.