California Mission Photos - Missions of California

California Missions are mostly reconstructed or refurbished buildings with but a few remaining artifacts of the original missions built along the Kings Highway known as El Camino Real. Established by early Spanish settlers to California, the work was largely overseen by Padre Junipero Serra, who is recognized in statues throughout the mission chain that stands today as museums and working Catholic churches holding weekly services. Earthquakes and the ravages of time have mostly destroyed the original buildings constructed between the late 1700s and early 1800s. The buildings were once run under the auspices of the Spaniards as part of land grant holdings deeded to those in favor with the rulers of that time. Finally when California gained its independence from Spanish rule and became a United States state entity in 1850, the land was sold and the mission buildings that had been ignored were recognized as an important part of California history. In the early 1900s private and public groups began concerted efforts to restore these California time-pieces, important in the establishment of modern cities along the California Coast.



photos  / California museums / California missions

Today you can stop and view many of the 21 missions. Some charge a few while others request donations, several are in a constant state of repair. Much research has gone into the original construction of the 21 California missions and the replicas or refurbished buildings provide a unique flavor of the era in which they were built..  While traveling along California, be sure to stop and visit these gems.  Oftentimes the grounds are lovely, providing a shady picnic table to eat a lunch or a vista overlooking some beautiful field or lush valley making up today's California. See: California Missions 

News of Note: Wednesday, July 27, 2005

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today announced that she obtained $300,000 to begin restoration of one of California's Missions. The funds are in the Interior Appropriations bill.

"This is just a first step in our effort to restore all of California's 21 Missions," Boxer said.

The funds for this project will go toward stabilizing and restoring the San Miguel Mission, which was nearly toppled by the Dec. 22, 2003, earthquake in nearby Paso Robles. County inspectors closed the building indefinitely as a result of damage incurred by the earthquake and related safety concerns. The San Miguel Mission is in dire straits since the earthquake..

Knox Mellon, executive director for the California Missions Foundation said, "This funding is appropriate and well deserved. My primary thanks goes to Senator Boxer whose absolute commitment and unrelenting pursuit of this funding for the preservation of these historical landmarks was essential."

California’s 21 Missions are the most visited historic attractions in the state, drawing over 5.5 million tourists a year. They account for a sizeable contribution to the state economy, and are part of the education of California students.

The House and Senate now vote on the Conference Report for the Interior Appropriation bill before the legislation goes to the President to be signed into law.

On Tuesday, November 30th 2004, HR 1446, the California Mission Preservation Act, finally became a reality when President Bush signed it into law. We would like to applaud Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Sam Farr for championing this bill in Congress, and congratulate all of the legislators who co-sponsored it and supported it.

This Bill will provide $10 million dollars over five years to the California Missions Foundation for projects related to the physical preservation of the twenty-one California Missions. This includes important projects like structural rehabilitation and stabilization and conservation of mission art and artifacts.

Please note, however, that these funds require a 1:1 match of additional money that the California Missions Foundation must raise in order to be eligible. We need your help now more than ever to raise the matching funds. Our goal is to raise an additional $2.5 million every year in order to keep up with the Federal timeline.

The twenty-one California Missions are among our most historically valuable NATIONAL treasures. They are well-known landmarks in California as the progenitors of many of our coastal cities and influencing land-use in the state to this day. (think Highway 101, Pueblo de Los Angeles) However, the missions' significance to national history has not been stressed enough. Their role as progenitors of Spanish Colonial expansion throughout the American west reminds us that the resettlement of the American continent over two hundred years ago did not just include British colonists on the east coast. Furthermore, the missions of the southwest including Alta and Baja California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas figured heavily in the history of Native Americans for good or ill, and must be preserved as a reminder of our complex past.

We at the California Missions Foundation are elated to see that our Federal Government recognizes the need to preserve the California Missions for the benefit of present and future generations of American citizens.

Their paintings, statues and artifacts are dirty. Their thick adobe walls are deteriorating. Cemeteries and ancient burial grounds are overgrown. Altars and confessionals are fragile. Tile and plaster show deep cracks. Plumbing and electrical systems need upgrading. Gardens and orchards have languished. Museums lack security systems. Old stone gristmills, ovens and wine presses need repair.
The 21 missions that shaped California's history, transportation routes and culture have fallen on hard times.

Of all the institutions that define California's heritage none has the historic significance and emotional impact of the chain of Spanish missions that stretch from San Diego to Sonoma. The missions are an important part of the state's cultural fabric and must be preserved as priceless historic monuments.

But time, natural deterioration and under funded neglect have taken a heavy toll on the missions. Some are crumbling and are at risk. Most need preservation and seismic work to restore their antique beauty and bring them up to modern safety standards. Without immediate repairs, centuries-old buildings and artifacts could be lost to a major earthquake or flood.

Now, only a multimillion-dollar investment will bolster the missions and help preserve them for generations to come.

The California Missions Foundation, a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization of civic-minded citizens dedicated to the preservation of California's historic missions is leading a statewide campaign---the first major appeal in nearly a century---to raise $50 million to repair the missions and preserve their precious artworks and artifacts.

$39 million is needed to fund structural repairs, seismic work and deferred maintenance at all 21 missions and the asistencia (sub-mission) San Antonio de Pala.

$5.8 million will fund the restoration and conservation of all Spanish colonial and mission-era paintings, statuary, sculptures, furniture, manuscripts, textiles and other irreplaceable artifacts.
$5.2 million is required for overdue visitor-related improvements including ADA restrooms, upgrades of historical displays and expanded history education programs for schoolchildren.
The usual problems related to such endeavors are compounded---and made even more costly---by the recognized need to respect the historical integrity of these fragile structures.
Heritage tourism is on the rise and more and more Americans are turning their vacations into historical adventures. The missions are a popular California tourist destination, attracting an estimated 5.3 million visitors last year including some 745,000 school children. And they have become synonymous with the state's fourth grade curriculum: Students famously build mission models and write research reports as part of California history lessons.

Like most people you probably think the state or federal government supports the California missions. That's false. The fact is that 19 of the 21 California missions are not funded by any governmental agency. Most rely on charitable donations to keep their doors open.

Founded in 1998 the California Missions Foundation is a California charitable corporation exempt from state franchise and income tax and organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation accepts gifts of cash, real estate, stocks, insurance, art, and any other assets that have no unusual liability. All contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

The Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, which establishes the policies to be followed in carrying out the purposes and objectives of the foundation and have general charge of the business affairs and activities of the foundation.

Help preserve the history and heritage of our California missions. Take make a donation to this extremely important portion of the California History, don't hesitate to investigate the esteemed organization and its board of volunteers who work tirelessly to save the California Missions.

California Missions Foundation
4129 Main Street, Suite 207
Riverside, California 92501

tel (951) 369-0440

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