The 50-ton sandstone block that will be transformed into the new “Spirit of the Ocean” fountain will be delivered to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse lawn on November 29 at 6am. The delivery is the first step in an 8-month restoration project that will result in a new “Spirit” being carved from locally quarried Sandstone.

The project is one of the key initiatives of the Courthouse Legacy Foundation, which has raised more than $300,000 in public and private donations to quarry the sandstone, hire artists to re-sculpt the fountain, and move it into its final location. ” We can not thank our public, private and in-kind donors enough for bringing this key project for the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation to life” said Tom Thomas, President of the Courthouse Legacy Foundation.

The sandstone was delivered from Slippery rock Ranch, the site of the old 1800’s stage coach route over the Santa Ynez Mountains. It follows the delivery earlier this month of three smaller sandstone blocks that will be part of the recreation of the Spirit of the Ocean Fountain.

The “Spirit” as it is called by locals, was carved in sandstone by Venetian sculptor Ettore Cadorin in 1927. Over the past 80 years efforts to preserve the fountain have often led to more damage and today many of the original fountain features are beyond repair. Robert Ooley, County Architect believes that not much of the original sculpted piece will survive much longer. “We are fortunate to have created an electronic scan image of the original piece before recent damaged occurred” says Ooley. Ooley continues…”when the original piece is removed to place the new piece, not much of the original will be in-tack…we expect it to just fall apart.”

Courthouse fountain

– The Courthouse Legacy Foundation was formed in 2004 to take on the challenge of protecting the historic and aesthetic features of the Santa Barbara Courthouse that are quickly deteriorating. The Foundation identified dozens of projects and features in the Courthouse that are either damaged or in desperate need of repair. The County of Santa Barbara, like many local government agencies does not have the funds to do most of the conservation work and so the Foundation has led the fundraising efforts to preserve and protect Santa Barbara’s most notable architectural and historic icon.

– In 2003 the Courthouse was named a State Historic Landmark and in 2005 became a National Historic Landmark. The Santa Barbara Courthouse hosts over 100,000 visitors annually.


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