When Mexico gained its independence in 1821, Alta California became a part of Mexico. In 1834, the missions were closed and the land was distributed to people who held influence with the new Mexican government. Following this "secularization," the Carmel Mission -- like so many others -- fell into disrepair. Many of the mission's adobe building began to disappear, and even the stone church (one of the few California mission churches to be constructed of stone) began to crumble. The photo at left shows the mission in the early 1880s. The missing roof is the most obvious sign of deterioration.
The U.S. gained control of the territory in 1848, and California entered the union as the 31st state in 1850. The mission lands were returned to the Catholic Church in 1859, and the Carmel Mission underwent its first restoration in 1884. A pointed Gothic roof was added to the basilica at that time. Subsequent restorations took place in 1924 and the early 1930s. The current (historically accurate) roof dates from 1936.
In 1960, Pope John XXIII designated the mission church a Minor Basilica.
Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo is designated as a National Historic Landmark. It appears on the National Register of Historic Places as California State Landmark #135.
The photos below show an exterior view of the mission from the early 1880s and at present.
CURRENT PRESERVATION EFFORTS
With the last restoration work completed over 70 years ago, the Carmel Mission is again in need of major structural and cosmetic repair. The Basilica's massive stone walls have cracks and flaking, and the wood lintels and roof framing are severely deteriorated in several places.
A major study was conducted in 2008, resulting in recommendations for a multi-year, multimillion dollar restoration project. The work will include seismic retrofitting, reinforcing the roof, replacing the clay roofing tiles, installing a fire suppression system, and making upgrades to the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems.
You can visit the Carmel Mission Foundation's website for more details on the planned restoration work.
Through the efforts of the California Missions Foundation, the Carmel Mission has received a $650,000 grant from the National Parks Service's Save America's Treasures (SAT) program, which will be of immense assistance in completing the necessary work. However, this SAT grant requires the Carmel Mission Foundation to match the funds with grants or donations from other sources.
On Feb. 17, CMF was pleased to present a check for $35,000 to the Carmel Mission Foundation, representing half of a $70,000 Hearst Foundation grant that will go toward matching the SAT grant.
"Here in Carmel we have been working diligently for the past few years to raise the necessary funds to keep this 1797 building safe and secure, and we are grateful for the heartwarming support of the Hearst Foundation and The California Missions Foundation," said Sam Wright, president of the Carmel Mission Foundation.
You can read more about the Hearst Foundation grant in this article from KSBW.com: