Sunday, September 16, 2012

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

16 September 2012

Some friends and I went to see the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, one of my favorite buildings in this city. We took a guided tour and learned enough historical details to play Santa Barbara Trivial Pursuit. The tour began in the Mural Room, which was painted by a famous American illustrator, but flash photos were not permitted in that room, so the only good shot I got was of the ceiling, which was done by a famous Italian painter. From what the tour guide said, no expense was spared when they built this courthouse, bringing in famous architects and painters and importing materials such as the many painted tiles.
Just outside the Mural Room is a beautiful rose window. You can see the top of a Moorish arch at the lower right, part of the Andalusian style which was the motif for the entire building.
The corridor to the right of the rose window.
 The stairwell at this end of the building, like all of the building, is filled with elaborate details such as this amazing lamp. The painting is of the first Presidente de la Fiesta.
 Still in the stairwell; you can see some of the beautiful painted tilework.
 A view across the Sunken Garden in the middle of the U-shaped building - the part on the opposite side used to be the county jail. The jail was more beautiful than most people's homes
 At the corner of the building is a round staircase which is open to the air on the outer side and onto the interior of the building on the inner side.

The staircase above is in the round structure in the photo below, which was taken from the corner of the Sunken Garden near the street.

 Looking out over the Sunken Garden from the corridor along the back part of the U.

Despite its appearance, this window is inside the corridor, so the bars are decorative.
 The entrance to the archive room, which was closed that day, but which we were told is in a Gothic style completely unlike the rest of the building. I will have to visit someday on a weekday and see it.
 This door is also on the corridor at the back of the U, and has a similar one behind, probably was a pass-through from the street to the Sunken Garden.
 A side door, and one I am very familiar with from my five weeks on jury duty in 2009. The inscription over the arch reads, "Reason is the life of the law."
 The clock tower from below. I don't know whether this arch is the main entrance, but I've always thought of it that way.

Inside the lobby, looking down the right arm of the U.

Posing in a little alcove of unknown purpose. I love the way the handles on the window are perfectly lined up to make my friend look like Princess Leia...
 One of the last public pay telephones in existence. Hello?

The stairs leading up to the clock tower.
 In the stairwell you can see into the room containing the clock mechanism and the bells. We were there when the bells struck and it was fun to watch the mechanism working the bells.
 Views of the city from the top of the tower.
  Goofing around...

Here is the view on the ocean side of the tower in a video. 

And finally, 360 degree view from the tower. 

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