Preservation Magazine, Winter 2016

News Brief: Mission Possible in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Mission

photo by: Al R/Flickr?CC BY SA 2.0

Earthquakes, inadequate repairs, and water damage had all taken their toll on the Old Santa Barbara Mission in Santa Barbara, California. So in 2011 the still-active Franciscan community and church began a large-scale preservation project on the property known as “the Queen of the Missions.” The work, completed in August 2015, involved several stages, including repairs to the underground crypt and the cracked main facade and dome of the 196-year-old structure.

The most challenging portion was the restoration of the convento, a quadrangle of rooms adjacent to the church’s facade. Cement added after a 1925 quake was trapping water inside the walls, damaging the original sandstone. The walls are now covered in lime plaster and paint, which allows moisture to escape. The project team plans to compile its findings in a “binder of care” so future employees will be aware of best preservation practices for the mission’s different historic fabrics.

Next, Museum Director and Cultural Resource Manager Kristina W. Foss hopes to move forward with repairs to the lavanderia (the laundry basin and channel that leads to nearby irrigation canals). She also would like to move the chapel organ away from the circular front window so that sunlight can enter the chapel during winter solstice, according to the original design.

Nick Totten is an editorial intern at the National Trust. He takes particular delight in historic museums and libraries. In addition, he enjoys performing music, playing with words, and appreciating the local sites and views on foot.

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