Courthouse Docent Council Recognized for 50 Years of Service

Courthouse Docent Council Recognized for 50 Years of Service (Courtesy)

By the Santa Barbara Courthouse Docent Council

It was May 1, 1974 when 18 charter docents gave the first public tours of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Half a century later, the Docent Council is being recognized for its many contributions to Santa Barbara’s iconic historic landmark.

On May 1, 2024 at 10:00am, a ceremony will be held in the Courthouse Mural Room where government officials will honor the work of the Docent Council in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The public is welcome to attend. Following the ceremony, the regularly scheduled 10:30 docent-led tour will be offered with extra docents on hand, and the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery will be open from 10:45 until 12:05. Throughout the day, there will be special displays and docents will be available to share stories and answer questions.

Docents are perhaps best known for leading over 6,000 people each year on free daily tours of the Courthouse, offering insight into the architecture, art, history, and significance of the building. Beyond public tours, docents provide educational tours to youth groups, staff the public information booth in the lobby, and raise funds as well as manage restoration work for preservation and beautification of the building.

In 1981, the County Board of Supervisors designated the Docent Council as official hosts for the building. The Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, designated a City of Santa Barbara Landmark in 1982, registered as a State Historical Landmark in 2003, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

Throughout the years, the Docent Council has provided hundreds of thousands of funding dollars to accomplish scores of projects to restore, preserve, and beautify many aspects of the Courthouse, including    historic lanterns, draperies in the Mural Room, loggia & corridors, as well as copper plated allegorical scenes on the Hall of Records’ doors. The Council has also provided support in restoration of the Mural Room, Spirit of the Ocean Fountain, and the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery.

With current membership of 64 active docents and 35 sustaining members, the Council continues to encourage and support the cultural heritage and public appreciation of this architectural and historic treasure.

The Docent Council’s website,, offers tour information and schedules as well as history and links for information about frequently asked questions.

Edhat Reader

Written by Edhat Reader

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