Saturday, August 18, 2012

Santa Barbara Courthouse

"This place is a photographer's dream," the stranger next to me commented.
"It is indeed."
"Where you from?" he asked.  He watched as I framed the next photograph.
"Here actually."
 His eyebrows lifted.  "I'm jealous," he said.  "This place is a photographer's dream.  Oh, did I just say that?"

Everyone who visits Santa Barbara finds his way to the Courthouse Clock Tower eventually.  I have brought every single out-of-town friend and family member here.  The mountain, city and ocean views are spectacular, but the courthouse itself - - - well, what can I say?---it's a photographer's dream from every angle inside and out.
The Santa Barbara Courthouse was designed by William Mooser III and built in 1929 in a Spanish-Moorish style.  The courthouse complex is comprised of four buildings wrapping around a sunken garden.  It is considered one of the most beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival buildings in the United States--an honor we don't take lightly.  The grounds are kept impeccably groomed.  The "Spirit of the Ocean" fountain has recently been replaced and the massive clock on the tower has been restored.

The inside is a showplace, as well.  Colorful imported tiles line the steps as you climb to the tower.  You can take an elevator, but then you miss the hand-painted ceilings and the wrought iron chandeliers.  The mural room on the second floor is a "must-see" for anyone who loves art.

Living in Santa Barbara, I have spent many a happy time sitting on the lawn of the sunken gardens.  Our local symphony orchestra performs pop concerts during the summer.  There are dance performances during fiesta and formal luncheons honoring local people and organizations.  I have stumbled upon many a wedding here, both in the gardens and up in the clock tower.  We forget, sometimes, that this a courthouse.  I spent two weeks sitting on a jury in the Superior Court.  I've gotten my passport renewed twice.  This building has become a part of my life.

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