Preserving the Past for Future Generations

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

(831) 624-3261


“It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

“It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela


Basilica Restoration Completed 2013

In June 2013, the Foundation completed the first phase of the Mission’s restoration, which was the seismic retrofit and structural restoration of the historic Mission’s Basilica. It was the third major restoration of the Basilica since it was built in 1797.

Work began in August 2012, when scaffolding was erected, followed by the installation of a weather protection structure over the Basilica. After removing the roof tiles, roof trusses were strengthened by the installation of additional wood beams and metal collectors. Cement bond beams and steel I-beams were inserted to reinforce and tie the structure together. Meanwhile, the 220-year-old-walls were stabilized by drilling over 300 center-cored vertical and horizontal holes – into which steel rods were inserted and grouted into place, thus strengthening the existing walls without affecting the appearance of the Basilica. New electrical and fire suppression systems were installed, together with new interior lighting and custom-made chandeliers. The radiant heating system Harry Downie installed was upgraded and a new ADA restroom building constructed. Finally, before the scaffolding was removed, repairs were made to the exterior walls, buttresses, towers, and dome. Special restoration techniques and materials had to be developed that were compatible with existing historic materials.

The Basilica is now three times stronger than before. As a result, the earthquake warning signs have been removed, as it is no longer an unreinforced masonry structure. Because of these efforts, this historic treasure will be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. Originally estimated to cost $7.2 million, over $1 million was saved by overlapping future Basilica restoration work with the seismic retrofit to take advantage of existing scaffolding and contractor infrastructure already in place. The seismic retrofit, plus all the restoration work, was accomplished in record time and with no lost-time accidents.

Carmel Mission Basilica, 2018 (after the $5.5 million structural restoration).

Share This