Carmel Mission Foundation awarded $1.8 million grant

Peninsula Premier Admin

CARMEL — A foundation out of San Luis Obispo has just awarded a $1.8 million grant to the Carmel Mission Foundation to help restore the Downie Museum and Basilica Forecourt project.

The Hind Foundation’s award will go toward the Mission Foundation’s $4 million restoration project that will restore, preserve and strengthen the 100-year-old Downie Museum adobe structure and front courtyard to the basilica.

This is the first grant the Carmel Mission Foundation has received from the Hind Foundation and the largest grant the nonprofit has received since it was established in 2008.

The Hind Foundation is diverse in its grantmaking but primarily focuses on music and visual arts, plant and wildlife protection, and land and nature conservation.

Stephanie Zelei, executive director for the Carmel Mission Foundation, said the grant will bring the foundation closer to accomplishing the project before the 250th-anniversary celebration of the mission in the fall.

Among the project’s goals is to relocate existing restrooms to a new facility in the main courtyard, which will double the museum’s space. Two new restrooms for disabled visitors will be built on the west side of the adobe. The expanded museum will highlight the restoration of the Carmel Mission from the 1770s to today.

Much of the work will include exterior and infrastructure improvements. Grading and paving will completely restore the Basilica Forecourt to provide accessible step-free pathways throughout the garden, basilica and museums.

Drainage improvements will prevent water from pooling under the bell tower and flooding the basilica. The fountain will be renovated and plumbing problems repaired. The entire courtyard will be resurfaced with new concrete aggregate and river stone to resemble the look the forecourt has today.

Over the past decade, the foundation has raised funds to complete a $5.5 million seismic retrofit and restoration of the basilica, the $2.2 million quadrangle courtyard restoration, the restoration of nine bells in the two bell towers and the creation of the Serra Memorial to honor donors.

The Carmel Mission, founded in 1771, is a 22-acre complex with 11 historical structures, five museums and the oldest house in California, all of which need structural renovation and rehabilitation. The goal of the project, which is 90% funded, is to complete work by this fall. Those interested in making donations can visit

Contributed by local news sources

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