Carmel Mission Foundation
Carmel Mission Foundation




Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain visited the Carmel Mission on Wednesday, November 13, in honor of Junipero Serra’s 300th birthday later this month. Vic Grabrian, President of the Carmel Mission Foundation, briefed the royal couple on the history of the Carmel Mission and the recently completed seismic retrofit and restoration of the Basilica. They then placed a wreath on the tomb of Junípero Serra and, after touring the Convento Museum, joined about 90 guests for a private reception in the Mission’s main courtyard. Accompanying the Prince was the Spanish Ambassador to the United States and the President of the Balearic Islands. For more information see the KSBW TV news video.



When the Basilica was built, it was oriented in such a manner that on the Summer Solstice, the sun would shine through the star window on the Basilica’s eastern facade, beautifully illuminating the tabernacle and altar. This occurred on the morning of June 21 and we were fortunately able to obtain this picture, as there was no fog. (Note also the sun's illumination of one of the new chandeliers.)

This event brings a fitting conclusion to the first phase of the Mission’s third “Springtime,” the restoration of the Basilica. On June 26th, the Foundation announced that work had been completed on the seismic retrofit and restoration of the historic Carmel Mission Basilica. It was the third major restoration of the Basilica since it was built in 1797.

Work began last August 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 was upgraded and a new Americans with Disabilities Act 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 all 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 restoration work with the seismic retrofit to take advantage of existing scaffolding and contractor infrastructure already in place.

The seismic retrofit, plus all of the restoration work, was accomplished in record time and with no lost-time accidents, mainly due to the professional leadership and the unprecedented cooperation of the project team and the outstanding efforts of the general contractor, Blach Construction.








On May 18, the Foundation sponsored a special event at the Carmel Mission Basilica to celebrate its restoration, and to thank the donors who made this possible. Donors were able to learn about the methods and techniques used to restore the Basilica, meet members of the restoration team, hear about special restoration challenges, and learn about new technologies employed. The restoration team presented different aspects of the project, along with slides and videos. The evening was capped off by Fr. John Griffin, Pastor, and Vic Grabrian, President & CEO of the Foundation, removing the earthquake warning sign on the door of the Basilica.

The Foundation also presented special achievement awards to Fr. John for his foresight and leadership in launching the third “Springtime” of the Mission, and to Brian Kelly, General Project Manager, for his pro bono service and role in managing the Basilica restoration effort.



On July 13, the Foundation co-hosted, along with the Carmel Mission and Blach Construction, a worker appreciation BBQ to thank all of the workers for the great job they did on the Basilica restoration. The event was held at the Mission’s historic Orchard House for all workers and their families.



On August 14, the Carmel Mission Foundation was one of the charities benefitting from the inaugural Carmel Mission Concours, held in the central courtyard of the Mission. Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, over 35 classic automobiles were on display, including a Bentley owned by Cary Grant. People enjoyed the vintage automobiles, wine tasting, and great food. The Foundation was present with its information booth, showing pictures of the recently completed Basilica restoration work and providing information on the next restoration phase involving the museums. Everyone attending thought that Frank DiPaola and the Knights of Columbus had done an outstanding job in organizing this new Car Week event.