The Santa Barbara County Courthouse

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse The Colorful Story of a Santa Barbara Landmark The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a widely recognized icon of the city called the California Riviera and just as widely known as a historic archite

  • Title: The Santa Barbara County Courthouse
  • Author: Patricia Gebhard Kathryn Masson
  • ISBN: 9781880284452
  • Page: 157
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Colorful Story of a Santa Barbara Landmark The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a widely recognized icon of the city called the California Riviera, and just as widely known as a historic architectural achievement Thousands, if not millions, visit it each year jurists and tourists alike but although everyone appreciates its beauty, few really know how it came toThe Colorful Story of a Santa Barbara Landmark The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a widely recognized icon of the city called the California Riviera, and just as widely known as a historic architectural achievement Thousands, if not millions, visit it each year jurists and tourists alike but although everyone appreciates its beauty, few really know how it came to be Surprisingly, in the three quarters of a century that the building has graced its grounds, no one has undertaken to document this architectural masterpiece Authors Patricia Gebhard and Kathryn Masson have changed that once and for all with their book, The Santa Barbara County Courthouse Together with photographer James Chen and book designer Eric Larson, they have created a work that is not only historically important, but nearly as beautiful as the courthouse itself Many people know or assume that Santa Barbara had a courthouse before the present building was erected in 1929, but almost no one knows anything about it Gebhard and Masson begin there, with historic photos of the original, classical style courthouse and its Queen Anne hall of records add on In 1919 the county, needing room, held a design competition for a new courthouse, and the entries received, as Gebhard and Masson show us, were heavily inuenced by the Spanish baroque style that was popularized by the 1915 Panama California Exhibition in San Diego None of these designs was built, however, because the county was unable to raise money to pay for construction It wasn t until 1925, when the old courthouse was destroyed by the earthquake that leveled much of Santa Barbara, that a new building became imperative and funds were nally secured Construction began in 1926, with the result we see today The footprint of the old building is reflected in the contours of the sunken gardens behind the present courthouse To document their story, Gebhard and Masson spent months poring over County Supervisors minutes, news reports in the Santa Barbara Morning Press and articles in architectural magazines, and courthouse docents records They were able to identify nearly all of the architects, craftsmen, and artists who designed the building and created the exquisite tile, ironwork, furniture, murals and landscaping that grace it inside and out Many of these individuals and companies are long gone, of course, but many are still active, and, as the authors point out, some of the courthouse s ttings can still be ordered from their catalogs Chen s 75 full color photographs beautifully capture the courthouse s ambiance, and Larson s open and asymmetrical book design reects the building s balance between void space and intricate detail They combine with Gebhard and Masson s careful research to produce a denitive study and appreciation of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, one that can hope to stand as long as the building itself.

    One thought on “The Santa Barbara County Courthouse”

    1. A very nice history and photo souvenir of this beautiful Courthouse, surely one of he most beautiful in our country. Its only real competitor (to my eye) is the Pima County courthouse in Tucson, another grand Spanish Colonial revival.Santa Barbara was already in the midst of its budding love affair with Spanish-style architecture, when the great earthquake of 1925 demolished the previous courthouse. The county moved quickly to build a replacement. Construction began in 1927 and was completed in [...]

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