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A Grand Colonial Revival Building

In the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, nestled between old mission-style homes and colonial office buildings, stands what many consider to be the grandest colonial revival structure ever constructed. The Santa Barbara Courthouse, designed by William Mooser III, was completed in 1929, replacing the one damaged by the 1925 earthquake.

The interiors of the courthouse feature murals by Sayre Groesbeck and paintings by John B. Smeraldi, who also adorned the ceilings of the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and the iconic Breakers Hotel in Florida.

  • The courthouse consists of four buildings occupying 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2).
  • The clock tower is 85 feet (26 meters) tall.
  • The property is surrounded by palms and trees from 25 countries.

The beautiful red tile roof and white stucco structure were designated as a National Historical Landmark for their architecture in 2005. Upon entering the courthouse via its grand archway entrance or its lush gardens, visitors find themselves on the ground floor, which comprises courtrooms, offices, and large halls adorned with historical artifacts hanging on the walls and beautiful murals painted within.

As you continue your exploration of the courthouse, you will eventually come across a staircase that leads to the clock tower section of the property. Before reaching the top, visitors can enjoy viewing a room adorned with murals painted by artists Ed Lister, depicting mankind’s landmarks in ancient timekeeping. Above this room lies the bell chamber, and within the tower, you’ll find a weight-driven Seth Thomas clock.

Within the courthouse’s sunken gardens and mission-style interiors, visitors are free to explore the property and enjoy all it has to offer, including guided tours, picnics, and special events. Although the courthouse is closed for business on the weekends, the property remains open to the public. A brief visit to the information desk can provide suggestions on how to explore the property and make the most of the visit.

The clock tower is called “El Mirador” which mean the lookout in Spanish.

The observation deck, located at the tower’s pinnacle, provides 360-degree panoramic views of the Santa Barbara mountains, city, and the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Barbara Courthouse, featuring serene grounds, remarkable architecture, and beautiful interiors, is an extraordinary attraction that is certainly worth visiting.

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