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.