A gift from the Sullivan family, construction of the Carmel Monastery of Our Lady and Saint Therese was completed in 1931. The large monastic structure consists of four, multi-story wings; the north, east and west are rectangular in plan, and the south is ell shaped. The chapel is contained in the west wing. There are two bell towers and one arcade connecting the south and east wings to form a courtyard. The building is reinforced concrete with terra cotta detailing at primary entrances. The two-coat cement plaster exterior finish is applied directly to the concrete substrate. The exposed layer of plaster is integrally colored and has remained unpainted since construction. The chapel wing and arcade have gable roofs with terra cotta tiles. The remaining wings have flat roofs with low parapet walls. The interior walls are furred out from the structural concrete and constructed with 2×4 framing finished with lath and plaster. In some interior spaces such as the chapel, the interior finish is terra cotta masonry units.
ARG Conservation Services was retained by the Archdiocese of Monterey to repair damaged terra cotta features of the monastery façade. Several decorative terra cotta features of the building had severely cracking. This was due, in part, to the harsh marine environment that caused corrosion of the steel within the terra cotta assemblies. The project entailed careful removal and disassembly of the cracked pieces of entrance columns, cleaning and a biocide treatment and reassembly using stainless steel internal components that would not corrode in the future. Small losses in the columns were patched and color matched to the original finish so that the repairs were essentially invisible.
The project also included restoration of the monastery cross. The cross was disassembled and lowered to the ground for repair. The corroded armature was replaced and the cross reassembled. After cleaning cosmetic repairs were executed. The repaired cross was then raised to its original location and secured.
Terra Cotta Repair
Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey