On a ‘Mission’ for Spring Break

Santa Barbara Mission

For decades, fourth-grade students in California traditionally made models of a California mission to fulfill the California history curriculum requirement mandated by the state Department of Education.

However, the new educational framework adopted by the state Department of Education is sending the annual mission model project into the dustbin of history:

“Attention should focus on the daily experience of missions rather than the building structures themselves. Building missions from sugar cubes or popsicle sticks does not help students understand the period and is offensive to many,” said the new History-Social Science Framework adopted in 2016. “Missions were sites of conflict, conquest and forced labor. Students should consider cultural differences, such as gender roles and religious beliefs, in order to better understand the dynamics of Native and Spanish interaction.”

California missions remain an influential part of the state’s history. The surviving mission buildings often have beautiful architecture and include some of the oldest buildings in California.

Spring break will occur April 1-5 in the William S. Hart Union High School District, Sulphur Springs School District, Saugus School District, Newhall School District and Castaic School District.

Make history come alive this spring break and visit a California mission.

Hours, accessibility and fees vary from mission to mission, so visit the mission websites for details.

History of California’s missions

Historic bell on the El Camino Real (Spanish for The Royal Road, also known as The King’s Highway) and sometimes associated with Calle Real usually refers to the historic 600-mile (966-kilometer) California Mission Trail, connecting the former Alta California’s 21 missions (along with a number of support sites), 4 presidios, and several pueblos.

There were 21 missions built in California, the earliest missions were built between 1769 and 1777. The missions were constructed by Franciscan padres in order to “colonize” the territory of Alta California, which was “discovered” by Spain more two centuries earlier. Franciscan padres were motivated primarily to undertake the effort because of the opportunity to convert the Native Americans to the Catholic faith.

St. Junipero Serra (sainted in 2015) founded the first California mission, and a total of nine of the 21 missions before his death.

Mission San Diego de Alcalá

10818 San Diego Mission Road, San Diego

This was the first California mission founded by Saint Junipero Serra in 1769. The location was chosen to provide easy access by sea to Alta California from Spanish Mexico. Tours available by advance request.  Info: missionsandiego.org

Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo

Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, also known as the Carmel Mission, is a Roman Catholic mission church in Carmel, California. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and a U.S. National Historic Landmark..It was the headquarters of the original upper Las Californias Province missions headed by Father Junípero Serra from 1770 until his death in 1784..The mission also was the seat of the padre presidente, Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen.[citation needed] It was destroyed in the mid-19th century, only to be restored beginning in 1884. It remains a parish church today. It is the only one of the California Missions to have its original bell tower dome.

3080 Rio Road, Carmel-By-The-Sea

The second of the California missions was founded in 1770. The mission built the first library of thirty books in 1778. It is the burial place of St. Junipero Serra. Info: carmelmission.org/visit/museum

Mission San Antonio de Padua

End of Mission Road, Jolon

Founded in 1771, this mission was strategically chosen as a key central California location by Spanish Mexico. One of the first known marriages in early California was celebrated here in 1773.  Info: missionsanantonio.net

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel

428 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel

Entrance to the mission museum is at the gift shop: 427 Junipero Serra Drive, San Gabriel 91776. The fourth California mission was founded in 1771. More than 6,000 Native Americans were buried on mission grounds. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the mission was known for its vineyard and wines. Info: parish.sangabrielmissionchurch.org

Mission San Luis Obispo

751 Palm St., San Luis Obispo, 93401 Established in 1772 the mission vineyard became so productive by the 19th century wine was exported to Russia and Great Britain Info: https://missionsanluisobispo.org

Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores)

3321 16th St., San Francisco

Established in 1776 at the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War, the mission was named for Catholic saint Francis of Assisi. Mission Dolores is the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 missions. Info: missiondolores.org/64

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano was a Spanish mission in Southern California, located in present-day San Juan Capistrano. It was founded on All Saints Day November 1, 1776, by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order. Named for Giovanni da Capistrano, a 15th century theologian and “warrior priest” who resided in the Abruzzo region of Italy, San Juan Capistrano has the distinction of being home to the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built in 1782; known alternately as “Serra’s Chapel” and “Father Serra’s Church,” it is the only extant structure where it has been documented that the padre Junipero Serra celebrated mass. One of the best known of the Alta California missions (and one of the few missions to have actually been founded twice—others being Mission San Gabriel Arcángel and Mission La Purísima Concepción)—the site was originally consecrated on October 30, 1775, by Father Fermín Lasuén, but was quickly abandoned due to unrest among the indigenous population in Southern California.

26801 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano

Founded in 1775, the chapel built by St. Junipero Serra, though enlarged, is still original and the only one surviving in which Serra is known to have celebrated Mass. The mission church’s original altar came from Barcelona, Spain. The mission is famous for celebrating the annual “return of the swallows to Capistrano.” Info: missionsjc.com

Mission Santa Clara de Asís

500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara

Founded in 1777 the mission is located next to the oldest university in California, the University of Santa Clara. The Franciscans used colorful cactus-based paint to create a vibrant chapel.  Info: scu.edu/missionchurch

Mission San Buenaventura

Mission San Buenaventura is a Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order in present-day Ventura, California. Founded on March 31, 1782, it was the ninth Spanish mission established in California, and the last to be established by Father Junípero Serra. Named for Saint Bonaventure, the mission is the namesake of the city of Ventura (officially “San Buenaventura”) and Ventura County..Mission San Buenaventura was planned to be founded in the year 1770, but the founding was delayed because of the low availability of the military escorts needed to establish the mission. In 1793, the first church burned down. Today, only a small section of the entire mission still stands; the Cemetery to the left of the church is covered by a school. It took the neophytes 16 years to build the new church, which still stands today and functions as a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

225 E. Main St., Ventura

Founded in 1782, this mission is known for beautiful gardens and is one of the most-visited missions. An easy drive from the SCV, the mission is open daily, with self-guided tours. Info: sanbuenaventuramission.org

Mission Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Mission

2201 Laguna St., Santa Barbara

Founded in 1786 it is known as the “Queen” of the missions and the 10th California mission. It is home to a community of Franciscan friars, a church with a large and active parish; a museum and gift shop; a cemetery and mausoleum and 12 acres of gardens. Info: santabarbaramission.org

Mission La Purísima Concepción

Mission La Purisima Concepción, or La Purisima Mission (originally La Misión de La Purísima Concepción de la Santísima Virgen María, or The Mission of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary) is a Spanish mission in Lompoc, California. It was established on December 8, 1787 (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, hence the mission’s name) by the Franciscan order. The original mission complex south of Lompoc was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812, and the mission was rebuilt at its present site several miles to the east..The mission is part of the larger La Purísima Mission State Historic Park, part of the California State Parks system, and along with Mission San Francisco de Solano is one of only two of the Spanish missions in California that is no longer under the control of the Catholic Church. It is currently the only example in California of a complete Spanish Catholic mission complex.

2295 Purisima Road, Lompoc

Established in 1787 the mission was best known for its hides and blankets, and at its peak inhabitants herded as many as 24,000 cattle and sheep.

Info: lapurisimamission.org

Mission Santa Cruz

144 School St., Santa Cruz

Established 1791 the mission is now managed by the California State Parks as Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park. It is a popular wedding site. Info: www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=548

Mission Nuestra Señora de La Soledad

36641 Fort Romie Road, Soledad

Founded in 1791, the mission has reconstructed the South Wing and Chapel. Visitors can also view remains of the historic original walls. Info: missionsoledad.com/history

Mission San Jose

43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont

Founded in 1797 by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen (who founded nine of the 21 California missions after the death of St. Junipero Serra), it’s the 14th California mission. Info: missionsanjose.org

Mission San Juan Bautista

406 Second St., San Juan Bautista

Established in 1797. When visiting the Mission, pay special attention to the church floor tiles. There are animal prints in the tiles that were made while the tiles were left outside to dry in the sun. Also, note the “Cat Door” carved into the blue side door in the Guadalupe Chapel. This allowed cats access at all times to catch mice that used to munch on mission crops stored inside. Info: oldmissionsjb.org

Mission San Miguel Arcángel

775 Mission St., San Miguel

Founded in 1797 this is a state and federal historical landmark. The church’s appearance today is much the same as when it was built. The inside of the church has never been repainted. The wall frescos are the originals that were painted by Salinan artists under the direction of Esteban Munras. Info: missionsanmiguel.org

Mission San Fernando Rey de España

15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills

Founded in 1797, this is the 17th California mission. It was named to honor Saint Ferdinand III, King of Spain. The closest mission to the Santa Clarita Valley, the mission is open daily. Info: discoverlosangeles.com/things-to-do/mission-san-fernando-rey-de-espana

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

4050 Mission Ave., Oceanside

Established in 1798, this was considered the “king” of California missions because of its large size. The first known pepper tree planted in California is found here. Info:sanluisrey.org

Mission Santa Inés

Santa Inés Mission in Santa Ynez California, one of 21 Spanish missions in California built as religious and military outposts by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order between 1769 and 1823. The missions represented the first significant effort by Europeans to colonize the Pacific Coast region and “civilize” the indigenous Indian populations. ..They gave Spain a valuable toehold in the frontier land. The settlers introduced European livestock, fruits, vegetables, cattle, horses and ranching — but also diseases from which the native peoples had no immunity. After its successful revolution against Spain, Mexico shut down the missions in the 1830s. ..Today, the missions along U.S. Highway 101 — the old Mission Trail or El Camino Real (the Royal Road) are among California’s oldest structures and its most-visited historic monuments.

1760 Mission Drive, Solvang

The last of the southern California missions was built in 1804. The mission’s nearby town, Solvang, was founded by Danish settlers. The Mission museum displays four bells. The 1804 Juan Baptisia bell is the oldest. The Ave Maria Purisima bell was cast in 1807. Still hanging in the top arch of the bell wall is the 1818 Lima bell which was recast in 1953. The 1912 St. Agnes bell was used for the dedication of the new tower that same year. Info: missionsantaines.org

Mission San Rafael Arcángel

1104 Fifth Ave., San Rafael

Constructed in 1817, no structures from the original mission still exist, however the Hearst Foundations rebuilt the razed original buildings in 1949. Info: visitmarin.org/business/mission-san-rafael-arcangel

Mission San Francisco Solano

114 E. Spain St., Sonoma

The final California mission was built in 1823. The location of the mission in Sonoma intersected many mission trails in northern Alta California. When California declared independence from Mexico in 1846, the new flag was hoisted over Mission San Francisco Solano.

Info: sonomacounty.com/cultural-arts/mission-san-francisco-solano

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