Missions of Central California (Images of America)
Robert A. Bellezza
After the discovery of Alta California, the Spanish Crown charged the first Franciscan friars to enter into the New World through Lower Baja, with a succession of conquistadors, explorers, and soldiers, on a trail called El Camino Real or ""The Royal Road."" The settlement began in 1769 at Mission San Diego de Alcalá, a new port and military presidio with buildings of mud, brushwood, and tule grass. Fr. Junípero Serra, the legendary mission presidente and founding father of nine missions, traveled along a worn path lined today by symbolic bell markers leading to many remarkable, modern cities. After 1772, settlements were spread to California's central coast region, filling with native neophytes who became the residents and builders of all mission settlements. The Spanish missions had brought dramatic changes to California's landscape and forged the underpinnings of its earliest history, founded serendipitously with the American Revolution and birth of the United States.
were shot directly into the adobe’s dry thatched roofing in the day’s hot sun. The mission fathers readily replaced the tule roofing with fired clay tiles and adopted this system at all mission settlements. Mission San Luis Obispo established outlying asistencias, the largest named Santa Margarita, a sub-mission built in 1787 that became a prosperous outpost. Near the location of Mission San Luis Obispo and set on a high plateau above today’s Cuesta grade, it served a large concentration of
given up tending herds, growing crops, and caring for orchards and vineyards. The middle mission along El Camino Real, Mission San Miguel, Arcángel is situated directly at the center of old Alta California and directly in the path of El Camino Real. Traditionally, the trail roamed thousands of miles through Baja California, Central America, and Mexico and was taken by missionaries traveling through jungles or desert areas building the Spanish missions. Intricate patterns were created after
removed many previous coatings. The Old Mission Santa Inés choir loft, perched above the eastern entry, was flooded by brilliant sunlight pouring through the nave forward to the altar during sunrise services. After 1812, reconstruction of the damaged buildings began with a new and much larger church built of adobe and brick. Facing east, it measured nearly 140 feet long, 25 feet wide, and 30 feet high with heavily buttressed walls five feet thick. Pine timbers were brought from the San Rafael
(Both, author’s collection.) Old Mission Santa Inés is located in the fertile agricultural Santa Ynez Valley, an area renowned for its wines. About 30 miles from Santa Barbara, it is located at 1760 Mission Drive in Solvang. Phone 805-688-4815 or visit www.missionsantaines.org. The mission is an active parish church. (Author’s collection.) Immersed in the pioneer history of California, Old Mission Santa Inés is known for its fine collection of early vestments and liturgical artifacts and stands
austerity. (Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection.) A photograph of the side entrance of Mission San Buenaventura taken near the beginning of the 20th century reveals the decorative Spanish-Moorish influenced relief designs with corniced pilasters framing the arched doorway and decorative entablature. The original “River of Life” pattern carved on the wooden doors was a native design feature carried over at many California missions. (Southwest Museum of the American Indian