Monday, June 8, 2015

Mission San Miguel: Going Back in Time without Leaving San Luis Obispo County

Mission San Miguel, California, looking toward church, © B. Radisavljevic
When you step within the mission walls at Mission San Miguel, it's like being transported to the the beginning of the nineteenth century -- as long as you don't look outside the walls to the street and the cars, or walk all the way around the mission to see the modern construction machinery, as I did.

The church has been through a lot in it's history. The first temporary church, built in 1797, burned down in 1806 and the new church was not built until 1821. In 1834 the mission was secularized after Mexico won independence from Spain,  and the mission was put under civilian control. During that time commercial businesses moved into some of the rooms. One of them was even a saloon.

In 1859, President Buchanan returned the mission property to the Catholic Church, but the Franciscan Friars did not regain the administration of it until 1928. The church was severely damaged in the December, 2003, earthquake, and was not able to reopen for six years  --  after renovation had taken place. The church held its  first service after the earthquake on September 29, 2009. The church remains in use today and is accessible to visitors. I will show you the interior in my next post.

Mission San Miguel, California, looking toward church, © B. Radisavljevic
My top photo seems to reflect the peace of the mission more than this one, from a different angle, that doesn't show so much of the sky. I was there on a Friday afternoon about three and almost had the place to myself. I did meet a couple of other photographers and someone working with the flowers you see under the arches. I did not go into the gift shop. It seems that would make me realize it's really 2015. The other indicator of the times was the sign in front of the olive press prohibiting skateboards, rollerblades, and bicycles. Maybe that's one reason it's so peaceful.

To learn more about the California Missions,  I recommend one of these books.


  1. This church certainly has a lot of history -- including a saloon at one time. Very interesting. You visit such lovely places and gather very interesting information too.

    1. During that secular period a lot of mission buildings were treated as commercial properties that could be occupied by any business and / or allowed to deteriorate.


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