National Register of Historic Places in Santa Barbara County

National Register #81000177: Santa Barbara County Courthouse
13 March 2017
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National Register #81000177
Santa Barbara County Courthouse
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara

Built in 1928, the courthouse could have easily been designed in a streamline, modern style. The trend in government architecture during the 1920s followed the general public desire for all things modern. Cutting across this national trend, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is an example of a romanticized public building that echoes the heritage of Alta California.

After the earthquake of 1925, the City of Santa Barbara mandated that the central business district be rebuilt in the Spanish Colonial Revival and Mediterranean architectural styles. In order to obtain a construction permit, the design must be approved by local architects well versed in these architectural styles.

The Courthouse, which is virtually unchanged from 1928, was designed as a metaphor for a Spanish castle. The building has towers, arches, large wooden gates called yett, machicolations, embrasures, lancets, exterior defensive balconies call hoards, turrets, mural rooms and Moorish paintings. The sunken gardens would be in castle terms, an Inner Bailey. There are numerous stone sculptures, hammered copper repousse, wrought iron grilles and six different arch types.

Adapted from the NRHP Nomination submitted in 1981.

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is also California Historical Landmark 1037.
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