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Old Mission Santa Barbara gets some much-needed TLC

Old Mission Santa Barbara gets some much-needed TLC
The recently refurbished exterior of the Old Mission/Santa Barbara Museum looks crisp and clean on a recent Sunday between masses as a boy reacts to his father's request for a photo. (Daniel A. Anderson)

If you haven't visited Old Mission Santa Barbara for a few years, you'll find it has put on a new face.

Known as the "queen of the missions" because of its beautiful lines, the church had begun to fall into disrepair when a $650,000 Save America's Treasures matching grant was obtained through the National Park Service.

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Scaffolding was erected in 2013 and repairs got underway. Crews repaired fragile bricks, fixed cracks and repainted the front of the mission. The scaffolding has been removed, revealing a brighter church facade.

Established on the Feast of Saint Barbara on Dec. 4, 1786, the mission was the 10th of 21 California missions founded by the Spanish Franciscans. More than 200 years later, it is a primary tourist attraction in the city, a cultural and historic landmark, an active parish and home to a community of Franciscan friars.

"Repairs are ongoing," said Kristina Foss, museum director. "We still need to repair pockmarked sections of the front wall. It's actually given us a rare chance to see the original adobe walls underneath, some of which date from 1790." She expects this part of the construction to be completed by July. "Hopefully, we won't have to do any more repairs for another 50 or 60 years."

travel@latimes.com

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