Santa Barbara Courthouse Great Arch Surface Treatment is Complete

Santa Barbara Courthouse Great Arch Surface Treatment is Complete
Recent conservation work enhances the beauty of the Courthouse and helps to preserve the sandstone from further deterioration

SANTA BARBARA, CA – June 27, 2023 – The Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation (CLF) is thrilled with the results of the recent conservation project that was completed on the Sunken Garden side of the Great Arch of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. The removal of dark biological growth and pollution that stained and degraded the sandstone has been removed and the rich golden hue of the beautiful sandstone is once again exposed. The interior walls were also cleaned and the original wrought iron grilles and ornamentation on the windows were painted. The project was completed on time and on budget.

“The results of the surface treatment are extraordinary”, said Angelique Davis, Board President of the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation. “It’s amazing to once again see the sandstone as it appeared almost 100 years ago.”

For many years the Great Arch of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse has been visibly deteriorating. In 2020, the Courthouse Legacy Foundation successfully removed a degraded coating on the Anacapa Street side of the arch that was causing deterioration of the Arch. The non-profit organization recently raised enough funds to continue the conservation work on the Sunken Garden side of the arch to surface treat the dark stains that were not only unsightly but also caused spalling (to break off or chip) of the historic sandstone. It had to be cleaned before further damage was done.

The work, which started in April, was done by specialty conservators experienced with historic structures consistent with the Department of the Interior Standards for a National Historic Landmark.

“We are grateful for generous donations from the Outhwaite Foundation and many community supporters who made this work possible”, continued President Davis. “Without their generous support, we could not continue to give the Courthouse the attention and care it requires.”

The Courthouse Legacy Foundation is now focused on raising funds to begin another phase of the conservation effort which will address damage to the sandstone blocks, failed mortar joints, and loss of ornamental stone features on the Great Arch. Gratefully, the Courthouse Legacy Foundation has already received a generous gift from the Manitou Fund and Nora McNeely Hurley & Michael Hurley. The community is invited to also get involved.

Its upcoming fundraiser, the Courthouse Legacy Foundation Fiesta Party, will be held on Saturday, August 5 in the historic Mural Room and outside Loggia overlooking the Noches de Ronda festivities. Sponsors include: Clock Tower Sponsors; Ian and Denise Burrows and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation, Spirit of the Ocean Sponsors; NS CERAMIC, INC. and the Law Office of Renee M. Fairbanks, Sunken Garden Sponsors; Patricia Schrader and R&R Trust, Loggia Sponsors; Community West Bank, Angelique & Erik Davis, Paula Farrington, Bobbie & John Kinnear, Ed & Marcia Lenvik, Julia Lowell, Charles and Eileen Read and Gary Simpson & Jill Nida. Sponsorships and individual tickets are available at

“The County is immensely grateful for the most recent project of cleaning the Main Arch by the Courthouse Legacy Foundation,” said Diane Dodson Galt, County of Santa Barbara Project Manager. “The work they do in caring for our beautiful Courthouse is important in retaining the building’s character and integrity. Without the CLF’s care and dedication, we would not be able to keep the Courthouse in such pristine condition so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

About the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation
The Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation (CLF) is the only 501c(3) non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to provide the historic preservation, conservation and restoration of the Santa Barbara Courthouse, consistent with the status as a historic landmark property. The Courthouse was designated a Santa Barbara City Landmark in 1981, a California State Historic Landmark in 2003 and a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

Future Projects
The County of Santa Barbara is responsible for the general maintenance of the Courthouse along with over 400 other buildings under their care, but it does not have the funds or resources to carry out all historic conservation projects needed. Since 2006, a partnership between Santa Barbara County and the Courthouse Legacy Foundation exists to preserve the Courthouse. Our Memorandum of Understanding outlines projects for conservation and restoration. The current five year plan seeks to raise to carry out six critical projects including:

The remaining work on the Great Arch Conservation Project

The Rotunda Conservation Project will address painted surfaces, repairing the Spanish-style hanging lantern and installing lighting to illuminate the ceiling

The Law Library Conservation Project will replace missing ceiling elements and repair damage to the ceiling as well as restoration of the drapes and metal hardware of the balcony windows.

Interior Painted and Stained Surface Conservation

Hall of Records and Main Building and Annex Plinth (Stone and plaster base) Conservation

Gifts to the Courthouse Legacy Foundation will help us to fulfill our mission to preserve and restore the magnificent Santa Barbara Courthouse for the benefit of the community. Donate at

Did You Know...

The sandstone plinth is actually cement plaster textured to resemble sandstone.