Adobe Chapel of the Immaculate Conception
By Bruce Coons
We are proceeding rapidly with the restoration of the chapel, which served the first congregation in the state and once was one of our most popular tourist attractions. The latest steps in this effort include the reproduction and reinstallation of tin candle sconces and the re-hanging of the Stations of the Cross in their historic locations.
We now are focusing efforts to reproduce the artwork and bells. The artwork was from the Presidio Chapel and the Mission San Diego de Alcalá and represents the earliest, most important and most beautiful collection that existed in California's mission system. These works of art were in the Adobe Chapel longer then in any other location. They represent our best and most revered connections with our earliest beginnings. The most important piece is the Patron of the City and Port of San Diego the statue of the Immaculate Conception originally the principle icon at the Presidio Chapel now in exile in Oceanside and in dire need of conservation. She was the focus of the residents of California's first European settlement and she needs to come home. Almost all of the items from this chapel still exist at various places around the state and can be faithfully copied. We are hoping someone will want to sponsor any or all of the various items that are missing.
The restoration of these items to this building represent our best opportunity to recover a powerful sense of our earliest beginnings for the public to experience in the most evocative setting. These objects were the most revered part of the daily lives of our first settlers and exert a presence of the past that you cannot experience in any other way. John Nolan states "The need to preserve these art treasures may be justified on their merit of works of art alone...but they afford an opportunity of reconstructing what had been up to this point a virtually lost world view that bears directly upon the development of Western civilization...a view that has become lost not only to historians of California but to scholars of Western Civilization generally."
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