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San Gabriel Mission To Get New Roof This Week

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A statue of Saint Junipero Serra used to stand in front of the San Gabriel Mission until leaders recently removed it from public view for its protection. (Josie Huang/LAist)
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Since a fire tore through its roof last July and singed its nave, the San Gabriel Mission has been walled off to devotees. But a new chapter for the mission begins Monday, when work crews begin installing a permanent replacement roof.

Mission spokeswoman Terri Heurta said the roof work is expected to take three-to-four weeks if all goes as planned.

“As you can imagine, this is an old building, so we don’t know how the building will react once they start to cut those transverse beams and try to put in new steel beams,” Huerta said.

She said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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In anticipation of the rainy season, crews installed a temporary roof late last fall. The July blaze burned not only the mission’s roof, but the ceiling, nave and wood paneling.

The walls suffered water damage and, towards the top edges, some heat damage as well, said Huerta, who still marvels at how the altar was unscathed.

Heurta said total repairs will run an estimated $5-$8 million. The mission is raising funds for what won’t be covered by insurance, such as electrical upgrades and adding ADA accessibility.

“We could use half-a-million dollars easily,” Huerta said.

So far about $300,000 has been raised from the community, with about a third coming from the mission’s Vietnamese ministry.

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More than 400-members strong, the Vietnamese ministry celebrated the 45th anniversary of its formation on Easter Sunday. It was the first ministry of its kind to be founded in Los Angeles County.

The goal is to get the building in the best shape possible by Sept. 11 of this year when the Archdiocese will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the mission’s founding by Father Junipero Serra.