Four projects are currently underway to improve the Santa Barbara Courthouse’s condition. They are: Recreate the Spirit of the Ocean Fountain, clean the walls of the Mural Room, anchor the rooftops and ceiling to reduce earthquake damage, and build ramps so disabled people will have access to the courthouse.

The courthouse’s Docent Council and the County of Santa Barbara have joined with the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation to recreate The Spirit of the Ocean Fountain for $500,000. The original sandstone fountain suffered damage from an epoxy “pool” paint used in the 70s to stop deterioration, according to a press release from the County General Services Department. Stone carvers will recreate the original 1928 Ettore Cadorin sandstone sculpture in the main entrance. Visitors won’t be able to see the fountain, but they can watch the work which will continue from mid-July until January.

The courthouse fire in January of this year damaged paintings in the Courthouse Mural Room and its lobby. The murals were done by Hollywood illustrator Dan Sayer Groesbeck, who did not finish the work with a projective varnish coat, the press release explained. Because the walls do not have varnish, acid from the smoke continually burns holes into the paint layer. The South Coast Fine Arts Conservation Center, lead by Patty West, will remove smoke off the walls and after restore the paint. The project is set to cost $450,000.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has hired Western Group, Inc, a general contractor, to complete the seismic retrofit and to build ramps in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. The retrofit project involves work on the Spanish-style red tile rooftops and the interior ceiling. Workers will need to remove roof tiles near the entrances, install stainless steel roof anchors, and reinstall the roof tiles, the press release said. They will put steel struts into the interior ceiling. Work on the interior will be done at night to minimally affect court operations. Western Group, Inc., expects to complete the project by October, for a maximum $487,000 contract price.

The County General Services Department has expressed much enthusiasm about the projects and preserving the Courthouse. They said they consider the projects a unique stage in the building’s life, and think it is a good opportunity for photo ops.


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