Taxpayer Dollars at Work

Santa Barbara Courthouse

What could 1.3 million dollars buy in the mid-1920s? After an earthquake rumbled through Santa Barbara in 1925 and leveled the county courthouse, a grandiose new one rose up in its place (tight-fisted voters had earlier denied funding for a grander municipal building).

The Spanish-Moorish design of the courthouse is the most visible example of the city’s post-earthquake mandate that buildings—previously a hodgepodge of clapboard and brick styles and many of which were destroyed during the natural disaster—adhere to a Mediterranean look.

Santa Barbara Courthouse Exterior

The courthouse flaunts a red-tiled roof, hand-painted ceilings, colorful Tunisian tiles, ornate lanterns, graceful arches, and this spiral staircase.

Santa Barbara Courthouse Spiral Stairs

The walls of the “Mural Room” depict significant moments in California history. (Take the tour and the guide will share which of the scenes were rendered inaccurately.)

Santa Barbara Courthouse Mural Room

Topping the courthouse is a clock tower that looms 85 feet above the city.

Santa Barbara Courthouse Clocktower View

So mesmerizing and museum-like is the building that while wandering its corridors it’s easy to forget that it’s still in use.

 Santa Barbara Courthouse In Session

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7 Comments on “Taxpayer Dollars at Work”

  1. Animalcouriers April 22, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    What a glorious building.


  2. digger666 April 22, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Reblogged this on digger666.


  3. TinLizzie72 April 22, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Wow that’s gorgeous! I’d love to see that in person.


  4. antarabesque April 22, 2013 at 9:46 am #



  5. Betty Londergan April 22, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    I love Santa Barbara! And the courthouse is one big reason!! Have fun out there & thanks for sharing!


  6. Leanova Designs April 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Beautiful pictures!


  7. msdulce April 26, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    This is beautiful! I lived in Santa Barbara for a summer while doing an internship at the zoo and somehow this missed my attention! Will clearly need to plan a trip back. Does it require a tour, or can you wander on your own?


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