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Executive Director’s Message
The Calm After The Storm


Two years in a row Mission San Juan Capistrano has been hit by torrential rains, and with it the most interesting opportunity to see the Landmark’s resilience up close.  

With this most recent downpour staff rigorously walked the site trailing the many rivulets that lined the front and central courtyards like a freeway system. We followed these trails of water only to re-discover the mastery and genius of the original builders who constructed something so durable that it can withstand 24 decades.  

At one point we were all surprised to find the outdoor 18th century wine vat filled to its brim, holding an estimated 1,000 gallons of water. We delighted in watching the 71 scuppers move flowing water away from the old buildings in a synchronized harmony that created captivating waterfalls lining the interior Central Courtyard. We watched as our zanjas led water underground and to the streets, again, demonstrating profound architectural collaboration.

And of course, with the heavy rains this winter we also discovered new leaks in the Serra Chapel, and in the 10-year-old Gate House and Mission Store. We faced operational and guest services challenges because we do not have enough covered areas to host hundreds of eager fourth grade students at lunch time. Through it all, the staff embodied a can do spirit.

The Mission’s endurance in seasons like this is a reflection of the care and investment of many. The generous gifts given, the support provided, the memberships bought and renewed, all come together to make a real difference when times are tough and the surprises mount. These surprises always seem to have a heavy price tag to go along with them, whether it is loss of revenue, the cost of repairs, cancelling programming or closing early.

At this time when we are on the cusp of sunnier days coming, we thank you for helping the Mission. Choosing to give a gift here means you believe that the 100% donation you are giving will go toward the intended purpose you most desire.  We use your generous donations to care, love and nurture this site so that it can stand as a place that matters and ensure, on your behalf, that the majesty and meaning of this place can endure the coming days.  

So, as we near the “calm after the storm,” we look forward to welcoming you back to a place where the flowers bloom and one can rejoice in the aged beauty that surrounds us. We are reminded in the stormy moments, your gifts make an impact to be seen, and felt.

Mechelle Lawrence Adams
Executive Director

About Our Director

Mechelle is a Native Californian, graduate from Huntington Beach High School, California State University Fullerton (BA, Political Science) and University of Redlands (M.A.,Management).

She’s the recipients of such awards as National Preservation Award, National Association of Interpretation Media Award, Arts Orange County’s Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy award, San Juan Capistrano’s Mayor’s Business of the Year, Orange County’s Top Work Place Award, Tabasco Company’s top community cookbook award, Mayor’s City of San Juan Capistrano Business Organization of the Year for Heritage Tourism Association and marketing co-op efforts supporting the innovative promotion of the historic downtown’s business community and most recently California Missions Foundation Chairman’s Award for Significant Contribution to California’s mission preservation.

Mechelle is the proud mother to three and resides in her home town of Old Town, Seal Beach with her husband and young son. She is also the proud mother to two adult children, one a city planner and the other a theatre professional.

Board and Commission Positions Held
• Arts OC, Board member
• Committee Member, Advisory Committee for California Missions and Presidios
• Orange County Historical Commissioner, 5th District, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett
• City of San Juan Capistrano, Cultural Heritage Commissioner and Chair
• San Juan Capistrano Heritage Tourism Association, Founder
• Discovery Cube’s Innovators, Founding member

Past Board Memberships/Non-profits Support
• San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce
• San Juan Capistrano Historical Society
• City of San Juan Capistrano, Laissez Faire Business Sub-Committee
• Discovery Cube Foundation Gala Co-Chairperson (2015, 2016, 2017)

• National Trust for Preservation, member
• California Preservation Foundation, member
• California Mission Foundation, member

During Mechelle’s 20+ year tenure, she has produced numerous revenue producing Mission publications/productions including:
• Voices of the Mission, inaugural audio tour
• Mission Commemorative Book, project manager and narrative voice
• The Bells are Ringing: A Call to Table, in collaboration with the Mission San Juan Capistrano Women’s Guild (Joy Horsch and Mary Smith)
• All 21 Missions Student Guide, project manager and narrative voice
• Mission San Juan Capistrano Student Guide, project manager and narrative voice
• Mission History Audio Tour, co-written with Caroline Fiegel
• Finding Inspiration: The Gardens at Mission San Juan Capistrano  written by Mechelle Lawrence Adams and layout designed by Kristin Bolda, Brand Marketing Director
• Finding Inspiration: The Gardens at Mission San Juan Capistrano, co-written with Caroline Fiegel
If These Walls Could Talk, Student Audio Tour, co-written with Caroline Fiegel
• Mission Treasures: Historical Collection Revealed, written by Mechelle Lawrence Adams with contributions from Jennifer Ring, Museum Registrar

All publications are available for purchase in the Mission Store and online at

Mechelle is available for keynote speaking at your event to speak in areas of hope, inspiration, management, leadership, preservation, strategic planning and life goals.

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Museum Hours

Tuesday - Sunday, 9AM - 5PM

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Closed for Annual Gala on September 13, 2024.
Closed early on Good Friday.
Hours subject to change


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26801 Old Mission Road
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-1300

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