Preserving the Past for Future Generations

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

(831) 624-3261

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 $400,000 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 $3,600,000 total funding for this project. With 90 % of the project funded broke ground on this 6 month project on April 5th, 2021. We need your help to secure the final $400,000 needed to ensure a successful restoration in time to commemorate the 250th anniversary this fall.  

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  will be relocated to double the museum exhibit space and two ADA family restrooms will be built on the storage rooms on the west side of the building. 

The Carmel Mission Foundation is hoping to work with the Carmel Mission Parish, in exploring designs for the expanded exhibit space, to include the re-creation of Harry Downie’s workshop previously viewed through a small window in the west wall. In addition, many of the artifacts dating back to the 1700’s, that were recovered during earlier restorations, will require additional conservation before returning to the restored Downie Museum

The goal of the Carmel Mission Foundation is to complete the Downie Museum and Basilica Forecourt restoration project in time to celebrate the momentous 250th anniversary of the founding of the Carmel Mission this fall.

Basilica Forecourt

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.

To stay informed on the Downie Forecourt Project and other Carmel Mission Foundation programs please click the following links join our newsletter below.

Project Updates   | Foundation News

Only $400,000 needed

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