Learn About California’s Mission by Visiting Them

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.

By Michele E. Buttelman

Signal Staff Writer

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 4-8 in the William S. Hart Union High School District, Sulphur Springs School District and Castaic School District. Saugus School District break is from April 1-8 and Newhall School District break is from March 31 to April 8.

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 the Missions

of thirty books in 1778. It is the burial place of St. Junipero Serra.

Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo is the only one of the missions to have its original bell tower dome. PHOTOS COURTESY VISIT CALIFORNIA Mission San Juan Capistrano has the distinction of being home to the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built in 1782.

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

Info missionsandiego.org

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.

Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo

3080 Rio Road, Carmel-By-The-Sea

Info carmelmission.org

The second of the California missions was founded in 1770. The mission built the first library

Mission San Antonio de Padua

End of Mission Road, Jolon Info missionsanantonio.net

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.

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel

428 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel

Info www.sangabrielmissionchurch. org

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.

Mission San Luis Obispo

751 Palm St., San Luis Obispo Info missionsanluisobispo.org

Established in 1772 the mission vineyard became so productive by the 19th century wine was exported to Russia and Great Britain

Mission San Francisco de Asís and Mission Dolores

3321 16th St., San Francisco Info missiondolores.org/64

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.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

26801 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano

Info missionsjc.com

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 on March 19.

Mission Santa Clara de Asís

500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara

Info scu.edu/missionchurch

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.

Mission San Buenaventura

225 E. Main St., Ventura

Info sanbuenaventuramission.org

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

Mission Santa Barbara

2201 Laguna St., Santa Barbara

Info santabarbaramission.org

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.

Mission La Purísima Concepción

2295 Purisima Road, Lompoc

Info lapurisimamission.org

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. Today, it is managed

by the California State Parks as La Purisima Mission State Historic Park.

Mission Santa Cruz

144 School St., Santa Cruz

Info holycrosssantacruz.com/ mission-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.

Mission Nuestra Señora de La Soledad

36641 Fort Romie Road, Soledad

Info missionsoledad.com

Founded in 1791 by Father Fermin Lasuen, this is the 13th mission founded in California. It is nestled in the heart of wine country and is only 50 minutes from Monterey Bay.

Mission San Jose

43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont

Info missionsanjose.org

This mission was also founded by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, who founded nine of the 21 California missions after the death of St. Junipero Serra. Before the mission, it was the Ohione Village of Oroysom.

Mission San Juan Bautista

406 Second St., San Juan Bautista

Info oldmissionsjb.org

Mission San Juan Bautista was established on June 24, 1797. It has the only original Spanish Plaza remaining in California. 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.

Mission San Miguel Arcángel

775 Mission St., San Miguel Info missionsanmiguel.org

Founded in 1797 this is a state and federal historical landmark.

Mission San Buenaventura is the ninth Spanish mission and it was founded on March 31, 1782. It was the last to be established by Father Junípero Serra.

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.

Mission San Fernando Rey de España

15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills

Info californiamissionsfoundation. org/mission-san-fernando

Founded in 1797, this is the 17th California mission. It was named to honor Saint Ferdinand III, King of Spain. It is the closest mission to the Santa Clarita Valley and is open daily.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

4050 Mission Ave., Oceanside

Info sanluisrey.org

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.

Mission Santa Inés

1760 Mission Drive, Solvang

Info missionsantaines.org

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.

Mission San Rafael Arcángel

1104 Fifth Ave., San Rafael Info www.saintraphael.com/

Constructed in 1817, no structures from the original mission still exist, however the Hearst Foundations rebuilt the razed original buildings in 1949.

Mission San Francisco Solano

114 E. Spain St., Sonoma

Info www.missionscalifornia.com/ missions/san-francisco-solano

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.

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