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 museum currently houses the main visitor restrooms, which will be relocated, restoring the adobe’s original floor plan and doubling the museum space to showcase the history of the mission’s restoration years from 1870-1940’s and highlight the artifacts unearthed during this time that are currently on display. Two ADA family restrooms will be built on the west side of the building, and the re-creation of Harry Downie’s workshop, currently viewed through a small window, will be expanded to a much larger exhibit space, providing a lead-in to the great restoration story of this National Landmark.

For more details on this restoration project visit

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

For sponsorship opportunities, legacy options, and Serra Tile recognition availability, please contact our

office at (831) 624-3261 or

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