Will gatehouse block the mission from the rest of town?

Work already started on gatehouse

Work already started on gatehouse

The following comes from a January 24 story in the Orange County Register.

A nearly century-old gatehouse at Mission San Juan Capistrano is undergoing a facelift that will transform the façade for the hundreds of thousands who visit the landmark every year….

The three-year, $3.3 million Gatehouse Preservation Project includes a rehabilitation of the original 1919 gatehouse. There is also an improved group entryway, an enlarged public plaza with benches and bike racks, and a gift shop.

While many favor the mission’s improvements, the Capistrano Historical Alliance Committee wonders if the gatehouse project is too big.

The mission’s gatehouse project is the first private project of a larger city effort to reinvigorate and restore the city’s historic downtown. The entire downtown plan covers 150 acres. The goal is to preserve and enhance the town center as the civic and commercial heart of the city. Designers plan to create a pedestrian-oriented public realm with “outdoor rooms” where people can congregate. The plan also includes ways to rebalance transportation and parking to coexist with pedestrian, bicycle, transit and equestrian access….

Despite its new construction, the gift shop is built to blend with the architectural style found in the mission, built in 1776.

Details such as hand-troweled finishes, hand-carved peeler logs, millwork, and stone are used to reflect the Great Stone Church, Lawrence-Adams said. To create greater authenticity, 1920s-era tiles salvaged from a Catholic church that burned to the ground will become the roof.

Inside the gift shop, guests can browse books and artifacts detailing the historical significance of the mission.

The shop will also sell crosses, jewelry, garden items and candles. Visitors who seek comfort at the mission can visit a devotional room at the gift shop where Gregorian chants will be played. The shop will close an hour after the mission closes to encourage visitors to linger and stay in town longer.\

Not everyone is in favor of the changes. Members of the Capistrano Historical Alliance Committee question the changes in size at the front gate.

“The massiveness of the new entrance stops the eye and almost appears to be a barrier. So much of the charm of Mission San Juan Capistrano is captured in the old photographs, and for that, we are very grateful,” Jerry Nieblas said. “However, we also realize that the prior entrance was small and updating was necessary to accommodate future museum space. The new entrance seems to block the visual invitation that existed before – there was a sense that the mission was connected to the community.”

To read the entire story, click here.



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  1. Abeca Christian says:

    they are a wealthy town, they can afford it. It’s just too bad that many there are liberal.

    • R.B. Rodda says:

      The Catholic Church has historically been very liberal, particularly in the USA and particularly with regard to social issues. It is the Church of the people, not of the aristocrats.

      • R.B. Rodda, I thought it was the Church of Jesus Christ and Peter (and his successors) was the cup bearer I.e. held the keys to the Kingdom while the Master was away. When did this all change?

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you mean by liberal?

  2. R.B. Rodda says:

    As a student of California History, I am appalled at how much it costs to tour Mission SJC. What is it now, twelve bucks for one adult? That’s offensive.

    I suspect the new structure will be just fine and I don’t share the historical concerns but I think their need in SJC to turn every buck they can needs to change.

    The basilica is nice, however…

    • Twelve dollars may be high for many people, but not offensive when you consider what it costs to go to most museums. Generally most of the money collected goes towards operations and to pay the staff. It takes a lot of money to keep up a building like that. They need to hire maintenance people, people to work in the store, cleaning people, grounds keepers, etc. If they only pay $15/hour, you are talking $120 per person per day. So ten visitors pays for each staff person. Twenty people on staff and you are up to $2,400 per staff person. Then you need money for electric, water, sewer, taxes, etc. $12 doesn’t seem offensive.

  3. A pay per view museum?

  4. Mbûkû Kanyau Mbithûka says:

    “I only fear bad Catholics.” St Bernadette

  5. I have to comment on this issue because I was so upset at the secularization of the mission the last time I visited. It is not handled in anyway like a regular mission. I was in the chapel to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and on the other side of the wall facing the cloister was a liquor bar set up to accommodate a jazz concert in the cloister area. People were milling around with drinks in their hands, loudly chatting with instruments tuning up. All this with utter disregard or lack of awareness of the inappropriateness of this activity in a sacred place on holy ground. When I complained at the gift shop they said it was necessary to earn funds for upkeep.

    My reply, “TELL THAT TO MOTHER ANGELICA!” She built a temple and cloister, a radio and tv network with contributions, prayer and hard work. Not one of her efforts in this regard compromised the sanctity of the Lord’s house. If one honors the Lord in his holy temple, he will provide the appropriate means to keep his Father’s house holy. I had visions of Jesus overturning tables of liquor bottles with a knotted cord. Our poor mission (“ours” meaning the people of God) has been desecrated in the name of progress for a very long time. God save us from this error.

    • Don’t forget it was Jesus, at his mother’s request, who turned water into wine so that the party could continue. 🙂 But, your main point is accurate.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      G.S that is because that mission is very liberal, the people running it are very liberal. I don’t know if they have the same pastor now but when Obama was first running, their pastor was in big support of Obama. Some of the faithful there were very disappointed in that.

  6. I went to visit S.J.C. from the time I was 5 yrs till 21 yrs. It was wonderful, and quite soul satisfying. I have witnessed over the last 55 yrs that not all progress is truley good. Like St Bernadette, “I only fear bad Catholics.”

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