The Downie Museum & Basilica Forecourt Restoration
The Downie Museum and Basilica Forecourt Project is a $4 million restoration project that will seismically strengthen, restore and preserve a 100-year-old adobe structure, increase the museum interior exhibit space, add ADA accessible restrooms, remedy flooding and draining issues affecting the Basilica, and provide ADA access throughout the garden and museum. Our goal is to complete this project in time for the 250th anniversary of the founding of Carmel Mission in fall of 2021.
Only $670,000 needed
With the help of a major sponsor donating $1,500,000 to the Basilica Forecourt Restoration along with museum grants and other donations, we have reached $3,330,000 total funding for this project. We are on track to break ground this November and need your help to secure the final $670,000 needed to ensure a successful restoration that will last another 100+ years.
Downie Museum Restoration
The Downie Museum adobe is rich with history, not only from the past 100 years, but also has ties to early Mission life. The Downie Museum adobe was commissioned by Father Ramón Mestres, renowned from John Steinbeck’s novel Tortilla Flat, in 1919. This 1,157-square-foot building was completed in 1921 as quarters for the visiting priest. In 1980, it was dedicated as a museum to honor Sir Harry Downie, who spent 50 years as the Mission’s great restorer. This adobe structure is believed to have been built on the site of Junipero Serra’s 2nd Church, from 1773-1776. As the Mission grew it served as headquarters for the Mission system and was later used for the Mission’s physician until the Mission was abandoned in the mid 1800’s.
This 100-year-old Adobe will be seismically strengthened in accordance with the Unreinforced Masonry Act, preserving it for future generations. The Downie museum currently offers visitors a 15-minute video overview on the history of Carmel Mission. On display are artifacts and items dating back to the 1700’s that were unearthed during the first restoration period. The museum currently houses the Mission’s main restrooms, which are not functional. These will be relocated to double the museum exhibit space and two ADA family restrooms will be built on the west side of the building to meet state requirements. A re-creation of Harry Downie’s workshop, currently viewed through a small window in the west wall, will be moved to a larger exhibit space. More images and artifacts will be added to share and explain the Mission’s early restoration years as the Monterey Peninsula was formed. Many of the artifacts and items dating back to the 1700’s that were used and recovered on the property during restoration will be highlighted and will help tell the story of the Mission’s historic past.
This Project will address all ADA needs, making the museum, forecourt and garden area accessible to the disabled, allowing all visitors to enjoy every aspect of the Downie Museum, the Basilica Forecourt and garden.
Surrounding the Downie Museum is the 6,800 square foot Basilica Forecourt, untouched since 1936. This is the main entrance courtyard to the renowned museums and Basilica. The Forecourt needs accessibility upgrades, as required by law. Drainage solutions will prevent water that currently floods the Basilica and pools under the Baptistry and Bell Tower during heavy rains. Grading and paving will be completely redone to provide an ADA accessible, hazard-free walk to the Basilica, Cemetery, and Museums. After the original concrete surface of the Forecourt has been removed, and exterior fire lines, utilities, sewer, and drainage trenched in, minor grade alterations will be made by bringing in fill to reduce the steepness of the slope from the entrance gate for the purpose of meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. An accessible, step-free ramp will be constructed and connect the courtyard to the fountain, gardens, and Downie Museum. We will address drainage issues, leaking fountains, and will resurface the entire Basilica Forecourt with a new concrete/river stone surface with brick borders to resemble the look it has today.