Preserving the Past for Future Generations

National Historic Landmark, 11 historic structures, and 5 museums throughout 22 acres

(831) 624-3261

“A museum is a place where nothing was lost, just rediscovered.” – Nanette Avery

“A museum is a place where nothing was lost, just rediscovered.” – Nanette Avery


Commissioned by Father Ramón Mestres, renowned from John Steinbeck’s novel Tortilla Flat, the Downie Museum was built in 1919 and completed in 1921. This 1,157-square-foot building was originally built as quarters for the visiting priest and was dedicated to honor the Mission’s great restorer, Harry Downie, in 1980. It is believed to have been built on the site of Junipero Serra’s 2nd Church, The Jacal, from 1773-1776 then used as headquarters for the Mission system and eventually used for the Mission’s physician until the Mission was abandoned.

The current walls are adobe and the roof structure consist of wood poles covered with redwood planking and two-piece clay tiles. A stone fireplace built by renowned sculptor Jo Mora are distinctive features. The floor is a concrete slab with tiles. The Museum now offers visitors a 15-minute video on the life of Junipero Serra with an overview of the Carmel Mission. On display are Native American artifacts and items dating back to the 1700’s that were recovered on the property. Displays feature items owned by Downie in his lifetime, including a model of the Mission he made at the age of 12, a recreation of Downie’s work room, many of his sketches, and more.

This 100 year old adobe needs to be seismically strengthened, infrastructure upgraded (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing), and the interior and exterior walls renovated. Plans include providing upgrades to accessibility by installing new step-free pathways through the garden. This building also houses one of the Mission’s main restrooms, with entry from the north side.  Water-saving plumbing fixtures will be installed in the main restroom and in the new ADA family restroom to be built on the west side of the building. As part of the renovation, the Downie Museum will be converted to the new Downie Center and will provide an interpretive overview of the Mission. Visitors will be able to view a beautifully illustrated mural that will be commissioned to depict the chronological history of the Mission. Visitors can also view the re-creation of Harry Downie’s workshop through the window in the west wall. This existing workshop diorama provides a lead-in to the restoration story of the Mission, from 1870 to the present day.

The Downie Museum & Basilica Forecourt Restoration Project is estimated to cost $4 million

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