paintings, statues and artifacts are dirty. Their thick adobe walls are
deteriorating. Cemeteries and ancient burial grounds are overgrown. Altars
and confessionals are fragile. Tile and plaster show deep cracks. Plumbing
and electrical systems need upgrading. Gardens and orchards have languished.
Museums lack security systems. Old stone gristmills, ovens and wine presses
The 21 missions that shaped California's history, transportation routes
and culture have fallen on hard times.
Of all the institutions that define California's heritage none has the
historic significance and emotional impact of the chain of Spanish missions
that stretch from San Diego to Sonoma. The missions are an important part
of the state's cultural fabric and must be preserved as priceless historic
But time, natural deterioration and under funded neglect have taken
a heavy toll on the missions. Some are crumbling and are at risk. Most
need preservation and seismic work to restore their antique beauty and
bring them up to modern safety standards. Without immediate repairs, centuries-old
buildings and artifacts could be lost to a major earthquake or flood.
Now, only a multimillion-dollar investment will bolster the missions
and help preserve them for generations to come.
The California Missions Foundation, a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization
of civic-minded citizens dedicated to the preservation of California's
historic missions is leading a statewide campaign---the first major appeal
in nearly a century---to raise $50 million to repair the missions and
preserve their precious artworks and artifacts.
The usual problems related to such endeavors are compounded---and made even
more costly---by the recognized need to respect the historical integrity
of these fragile structures.
- $39 million is needed to fund structural repairs, seismic work and
deferred maintenance at all 21 missions and the asistencia (sub-mission)
San Antonio de Pala.
- $5.8 million will fund the restoration and conservation of all Spanish
colonial and mission-era paintings, statuary, sculptures, furniture,
manuscripts, textiles and other irreplaceable artifacts.
- $5.2 million is required for overdue visitor-related improvements
including ADA restrooms, upgrades of historical displays and expanded
history education programs for schoolchildren.
Heritage tourism is on the rise and more and more Americans are turning
their vacations into historical adventures. The missions are a popular
California tourist destination, attracting an estimated 5.3 million visitors
last year including some 745,000 school children. And they have become
synonymous with the state's fourth grade curriculum: Students famously
build mission models and write research reports as part of California
Like most people you probably think the state or federal government
supports the California missions. That's false. The fact is that 19 of
the 21 California missions are not funded by any governmental agency.
Most rely on charitable donations to keep their doors open.
Founded in 1998 the California Missions Foundation is a California charitable
corporation exempt from state franchise and income tax and organized and
operated exclusively for charitable purposes under Section 501(c)(3) of
the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation accepts gifts of cash,
real estate, stocks, insurance, art, and any other assets that have no
unusual liability. All contributions are tax deductible to the extent
allowed by law.
The Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board
of Directors, which establishes the policies to be followed in carrying
out the purposes and objectives of the foundation and have general charge
of the business affairs and activities of the foundation.