At the 8th Annual Courthouse Legacy Foundation’s Fiesta Party on August 4, a sold-out crowd of 120 members and other supporters mingled and dined in the grand Mural Room at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. In the Loggia, they had a premier viewing area for watching Flor y Canto and Noches de Ronda being performed in the Sunken Gardens below. This fundraising event helps support the Foundation’s mission of preserving and restoring the magnificent Courthouse.
There was an extensive Mexican buffet open throughout the evening and live guitar music in the Mural Room. From the high perch of the Loggia, guests enjoyed the extensive song and dance performances in the Sunken Gardens below. Original 19th century Spanish California dances and songs were performed during Flor y Canto. The main show, Noches de Ronda, featured spectacular flamenco and Mexican folklorico dance performances.
Some guests also popped up to the El Mirador Clock Tower to take in the 360-degree views of the city, mountains, and sea at the sweet time of twilight. Many of the guests attend this event every year, not wanting to pass up the opportunity to experience the grandeur of the Mural Room, the views from the clock tower, and the exquisite dancing in the Sunken Gardens.
The Courthouse Legacy Foundation was formed in 2004 by a group of citizens concerned about the County’s lack of funds and artistic resources to restore the Courthouse. Its mission is to fund the conservation and restoration of the building so that future generations can enjoy this community treasure. The structure, designed by William Mooser, was built in the immediate aftermath of the 1925 earthquake. Today it still serves as an active courthouse, housing a law library, public records, and county offices. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful building in Santa Barbara and the most beautiful courthouse in the country.
The foundation is currently seeking to raise $275,000 to restore the Great Arch that faces Anacapa Street. Years ago, a white paint was sprayed on the sandstone in the hope of preserving it, yet the paint had the opposite effect, trapping moisture inside and causing significant deterioration.
The most recent of the foundation’s many completed projects was the restoration in the Mural Room of the 4,200 square feet of hand-painted murals depicting Santa Barbara historical scenes. It was completed in 2015 at a cost of $575,000. Up until 1966, the County Board of Supervisors met in the room. Now it is used for weddings (about 300 per year), graduations, and special ceremonies.
For more information about the Foundation, including membership and the Great Arch project, go to courthouselegacyfoundation.org.
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By Gail Arnold