CMF's 23rd Anniversary

Through the Years

As we continue to look back at more than 250 years since the first Mission was founded in Alta California, the California Mission Foundation celebrates its own 23-year history anniversary and its work preserving, restoring and conserving the California Missions, Presidios and related historic sites. Since its founding in 1998, the California Mission Foundation has completed hundreds of projects at more than 25 Missions, Presidios, and Asistencias. CMF works closely with the dedicated on site staff at our Missions, Presidios and Asistencias, and is thankful for the generosity of partner foundations and individuals, Working to best meet the needs of these historic sites, the Foundation has supported a variety of programs addressing the Mission buildings, their art and artifact collections, and the various necessary upgrades to keep these sites in operation for years to come. CMF also boasts a robust education program for 4th graders, and is equally dedicated to scholarship and research.

San Gabriel Fire
Nave from ground floor
San Gabriel Fire Restoration-Reredo

An early morning fire at Mission San Gabriel on July 11, 2020 was another call to action to save one of the precious California Missions. The California Missions Foundation quickly teamed with Mission San Gabriel and the Los Angeles Archdiocese in the important fundraising efforts. A $500,000 fire insurance deductible became the first goal, followed closely by, and at times parallel to, much needed fundraising to conserve the mission’s vast collection including statues, artwork and other artifacts.


Mission San Miguel closed (left), Senator Barbara Boxer visiting Mission San Miguel (middle), and Mission San Miguel under repair (right).

With the closure of the San Miguel Mission in 2004 after a devastating Earthquake, the California Missions Foundation worked with Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein to secure the Save America’s Treasures grants for several California Missions. These federal grants funded not only the necessary repairs to reopen the San Miguel Mission in 2006, but also funded various architectural restorations, stabilizations, and seismic retrofit projects at Missions San Luis Rey, Santa Barbara, and Carmel.

20th_Anniv_Mission_Santa _Barbara_2
20th_Anniv_Mission_Santa _Barbara

The architectural restoration did not stop there, as the Foundation continues funding various structural stabilization, restoration, and survey projects to ensure the Mission and Presidio sites maintain their historic appearance. Asistencia San Antonio de Pala restored its historic Mission Bell tower with a grant back in 2013, while the San Antonio de Padua Mission received a grant last year to refurbish its Mission Library with handmade tiles from Mexico.


The art conservation projects remain just as varied, whether removing heavy overpaint from a canvas or updating collection storage facilities and display cases. Nevertheless, the results are stunning, as seen in the conserved Divine Shepherdess painting at Mission Carmel and the Saint Dominic statue at Mission San Buenaventura. With such extensive collections of statues, paintings, and artifacts in the Mission collections, continual observation and conservation is required, with the past 2017 grant cycle funding the conservation of nine painting and a statue from seven different Mission sites.

Archaeological investigations and surveys continue uncovering more and more about the Mission and their history, from the early founding of the San Diego Mission in 1769 to the modern day. Just last July, Peter Meyerhof conducted a Ground Penetrating Radar survey to investigate a potential location of the Old Adobe Church of Mission San Francisco Solano.


As the work continues, CMF searches for projects and initiatives to meet the developing needs of the Mission sites. The development of a Mission and Presidio Working Group has encouraged further communication between site representatives to discuss important shared issues and concerns regarding preservation, operations, and any additional topics of interest. The CMF Commemorative Preservation History Project seeks to develop a comprehensive archival account of all the past preservation project completed in the last twenty years to encourage future fundraising and project development. As CMF continues developing these new project, the Foundation will be reaching out to site representatives for additional information on past and future projects to be completes at the Mission. The California Missions Foundation would like to thank all of partner foundations, individual donors, and site personnel for the last twenty years as the Foundation look forward to the next twenty to come.