Missions of Central California (Images of America)
Robert A. Bellezza
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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.
Saint Bonaventure. The mission is located at 211 East Main Street in Ventura. Phone 805-643-4318 or visit www.sanbuenaventuramission.org (Author’s collection.) The unique beauty of Mission San Buenaventura’s compound and courtyard, gardens, and patio makes the mission a perfect stop for many locals as well as tourists seeking to capture the authentic flavor of the original California Spanish missions. (Author’s collection.) Mission San Buenaventura was the last to be founded by Father Serra on
the chain connected a diversity of Indian-run industries. A fire at Mission La Purísima Concepción in 1806 consumed large stores of wool, cloth, leather, and harvested grain, and a larger church was completed in 1816 at today’s existing location. The mission’s end came with transition to Mexico’s rule, and the rebuilt Mission La Purísima fell under siege in 1823 when native riots were incited by a widespread revolt that spread from nearby missions. Rebels at the Mission La Purísima used the tools
weighed nearly 400 pounds and was inscribed “Manuel Vargas me fecit-Lima-Mision D. Sn Luis Obispo—De la Nueba California—Ano D. 1818.” (Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection.) Grapevines and olive and pomegranate trees descended from those planted by the first friars still grow within the gardens of the mission. (Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection.) Recently rediscovered, this glass plate negative of 1928 depicts Mission San Luis Obispo’s garden within the mission
left severe damage to the front and bell tower. By 1816, the mission building was reconstructed and all the interior woodwork replaced. (Author’s collection.) Father Serra brought Fr. Pedro Benito Cambón to help found Mission San Buenaventura and left Father Cambón in charge. Father Serra himself wrote the first pages of the baptismal records, although few natives were willing to join. The natives’ trades of beads and trinkets helped build the structures of the settlement at first. The new
in the Roman Empire at the end of the 3rd century. (Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection.) This view from 1936 shows the sculpted lavanderia (laundry basin) at the front entrance to the convento. The Moorish-style fountain of 1808 was connected to two large dams that provided drinking water, cleaned by straining it through charcoal beds within a stone filter building, then piped to the mission through a series of fired clay tiles. A sculpted bear spouts water into the basin.