Missions of San Diego (Images of America)
Robert A. Bellezza
Californias first settlement began on a trail called El Camino Real, or The Royal Road, that was traveled by missionary pathfinders, soldiers, and conquistadors on a dramatic journey into a mysterious land. Monterey was discovered in 1603, leading to the quest. Explorers Don Gaspar de Portolá and Juan Bautista de Anza, along with ambitious Franciscan missionaries, founded 21 monumental Spanish missions and several asistencias and chapels for native neophytes, travelers, and visitors to Alta California. Following the initial landing in 1769 at San Diegos seaport, Fr. Junípero Serra founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá, Californias first landmark, at the original presidio site. The mission stands today exactly where it was moved, rebuilt, and completed in 1813. The native populations of California witnessed years of change from a sleepy province to the status of US statehood. The Spanish missions forged the powerful underpinnings of the Golden States earliest settlements 80 years prior to the worlds largest migration to California, the 1849 Gold Rush.
Capistrano. The buildings included a tiled adobe church, a hostel, and stables with corrals. Corn, wheat, and barley grains were raised. The chapel was abandoned after 35 years, and newer adobe buildings were constructed. They later were incorporated as part of the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. The original mission footprint is located behind a present-day Boy Scout area inside the base. (Both, Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection.) 100 This fine example of an adobe brick
vanished. Brush and mud ramadas temporarily served as a church and were usually propped against a remaining original adobe wall. Two bells, bought by the Indians for six burro loads of barley, hung in a frame and remained the only artifacts of the original chapel for decades. The renowned photographer Edward S. Curtis recorded the lives of ancestral indigenous people at the beginning of the 20th century. The turmoil of the MexicanAmerican War ended the Mexican period of secularization laws and
offered tremendous water resources. In nearby agricultural lands, just 20 miles from Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, irrigation water was fed from Warner Springs, native Cupeña land, helping to expand mission boundaries. Father Peyri’s founding of the asistencia Mission San Antonio de Pala created an important hub to neighboring tribal groups joining the mission communities. A sub-mission at first, Father Peyri had a granary built in 1810; it quickly grew in stature with a mission church and
earthquakes and fires. All of the missions have been rebuilt and received accurate restorations in the recent years. A bygone era of Old California’s romantic landscape has been revitalized. The restoration process began in 1888 with the Association for the Preservation of the Missions; by 1895, it had carried over to the Landmarks Club, headed by Charles Fletcher Lummis, an influential newspaper writer. The club leased Mission San Juan Capistrano, rescuing it from utter ruin, and made efforts
century, the church lay in ruins until the humble remains were brought back to their full grandeur by the ardent efforts of Father O’Keefe, who rededicated the church in 1893. As details were added by 1937, restorations to the interior art were made by skilled artisans through the American Index of Design, a product of the New Deal era. (Escondido Public Library, Pioneer Room.) 47 Mission San Luis Rey de Francia’s magnificent chapel nave accommodated up to 1,000 attendees within its hallowed