Santa Barbara Courthouse Docent Council

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Welcome to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, an historic centerpiece of downtown Santa Barbara. Construction of the current building was completed in 1929, after the previous courthouse (on this same site) was badly damaged in a devastating 1925 earthquake. The courthouse is designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style that was popular in California at the time, and which became the basis for a new ‘Santa Barbara style’ when most of the city had to be rebuilt after the earthquake.

More specifically, the courthouse is loosely modeled after the medieval castles found throughout the Andalusia region of southern Spain (which is particularly fitting since our namesake – Saint Barbara – is often represented by the symbol of a castle with a tower). A variety of European influences (primarily Moorish, but also Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine, etc.) are seamlessly blended in the details of the design; but in simplest terms, the courthouse can be thought of as a 1920s Hollywood interpretation of a medieval Spanish castle.

In addition to being an historic landmark and beloved tourist attraction, the building still serves as an active courthouse, as well as a popular site for many of Santa Barbara’s civic events and celebrations throughout the year.

The Docent Council invites you to read more about the history of the courthouse or to explore the building’s exterior on a self-guided walking tour