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Groundbreaking Held for Carmel Mission Foundation’s Downie Museum and Basilica Forecourt Restoration Project

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April 14, 2021
Groundbreaking Held for Carmel Mission Foundation’s Downie Museum and Basilica Forecourt Restoration Project  
$4 Million Dollar Project Scheduled to be Complete in October 2021 
Carmel, CA – April 14, 2021 – Step two of the Downie Museum and Basilica Forecourt Restoration Project officially began with a groundbreaking that took place in the Basilica Forecourt on April 5th.  
The Downie Museum and Basilica Forecourt project is a $4 million dollar restoration project and is currently 90% funded.  Step one of the restoration project began in November 2020 and was complete at the end of March.  It included the relocation of the main restrooms located in the Downie Museum to a new facility in the Central Courtyard. 
“We are extremely fortunate to have received several large grant awards, including $1.8 million from the Hind Foundation, $1.5 million from a Bay Area family, and $100,000 from the Hayward Foundation, along with many other generous gifts which has helped us raise $3,600,000 of the $4,000,000 needed to complete this project,” said Stephanie Zelei, Executive Director for the Carmel Mission Foundation. 
Step two includes seismically strengthening the unreinforced 100-year-old masonry museum adobe according to state requirements.  In addition to the seismic work, interior walls will be opened to expand the museum exhibit space and two new ADA restrooms will be added to the west side of the museum. Draining issues and flooding affecting the Basilica Bell Tower will be remedied and the iconic fountain will be repaired. Upgraded irrigation systems will be added throughout the gardens and new landscaping with native drought tolerant plants will help with water conservation.  The temporary wall constructed during an urgent emergency wall removal in 2020 will be replaced with a permanent perimeter wall and a new gate entrance.   
After the original cracked and uneven concrete surface of the Basilica Forecourt has been removed, and exterior fire lines, utilities, and drainage trenched in, minor grade alterations will be made to reduce the steepness of the slope from the entrance gate to meet ADA requirements and create a more enjoyable visitors experience. Accessible, step-free paths will connect the courtyard to the fountain, gardens, and museums. The entire Basilica Forecourt will be resurfaced to resemble the look it has today. 
The project is being led by Project Manager Steve Aitchison, Principal of SRA Project Management.  The goal of the Carmel Mission Foundation is to complete step two of the Downie Museum and Basilica Forecourt restoration project by this fall, in time to celebrate the momentous 250th anniversary of the founding of the Carmel Mission in 1771.   
Donations to this important restoration project to help restore this incredible landmark of Carmel can be made online or by calling the Carmel Mission Foundation. For more information and project updates visit or call (831) 624-3261. 
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Photo (Left to Right): Rich Pepe, Carmel Mission Foundation Board Member; Steve Aitchison, Restoration Project Manager; Bobby Richards, Carmel City Councilman; Stephanie Zelei, Carmel Mission Foundation Executive Director; Fr. Paul, Carmel Mission Parish; Sam Gesumaria, Carmel Mission Foundation Chairman of the Board; Brett Brenkwitz, Project Architect; Dave Potter, Mayor of Carmel  
Photo Credit: Manny Espinoza 
About the Carmel Mission Foundation 
The Carmel Mission Foundation was established in 2008 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation independent from any religious organizations.  Its purpose is to fund the restoration and preservation of the historic buildings, grounds, and historic artifacts throughout the Carmel Mission complex, ensuring accessibility for future generations. 
The Carmel Mission was founded in 1771. The 22 acre Carmel Mission complex has 11 historical structures and five museums that all need structural renovation and rehabilitation. The objective of the work being done is to not just remedy existing deficiencies, but to ensure the preservation of the buildings for future generations. 
The Carmel Mission is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, a California State Landmark, and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Since 2008, the Foundation has awarded over $13 million to support the Carmel Mission restoration and preservation needs. 
Stephanie Zelei, Executive Director, (831) 624-3261