Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mission La Purisima, Lompoc, California

Mission La Purisima looking toward the Main Church down the track of El Camino Real
Mission La Purisima looking toward the
Main Church down the track of El Camino Real
Visited 27 Nov 2012 - Mission La Purisima (1787-1834)We visited the La Purisima Mission State Historic Park just north of Lompoc not really knowing what to expect. The reason we include missions in our fort research is that they nearly always included a small garrison of regular troops and many times they came under attack from hostile Indians, regular troops from other nations and/or rebellious mission Indians. The physical design of many missions included a quadrangle surrounded by strong adobe walls with a defensive purpose.
Mission La Purisima Shops and Quarters Building
Mission La Purisima Shops and Quarters Building. The Garrison Barracks Rooms are on the End of the Building by the Flag.
Ruins of the Original Mission La Purisima
Ruins of the Original Mission La Purisima

The La Purisima Mission was built in two different locations. The second location is the one that has become the state park. The first location was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812 and exists only as a set of ruins in south Lompoc. The second location now houses the most completely restored Spanish mission of the 21 missions in California. That restoration was done over a seven year period during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and completed on 7 Dec 1941.
Mission La Purisima Visitor Center
Mission La Purisima Visitor Center




We stopped by the visitor center first and picked up some great handouts and went through the displays in the museum. The handouts were exceptional and included one for the first Mission La Purisima. The displays really set the tone for going through the mission and explained much of the mission history including the CCC restoration.

Mission La Purisima Main Church Interior
Mission La Purisima Main Church Interior





Touring the mission buildings is different from most missions because there are three large buildings all in a line, most mission are arranged around a central quadrangle. The first building in the line contains the main Church, bell tower and cemetery compound. The interior of the church could hold a thousand worshipers.

Mission La Purisima Garrison Barracks Room
Mission La Purisima Garrison Barracks Room







The first set of rooms in the second building contains the garrison barracks rooms that housed five privates and a married corporal. The rest of the rooms housed trade shops and residences. These rooms are all fitted out with period furnishings and equipment. The mayordomo was the equivalent of a ranch foreman and manager who was second only to the padres and his quarters reflect his high status.
Mission La Purisima Padres Residence Building
Mission La Purisima Padres Residence Building

The third building contains the padres residence, office and private chapel. The private chapel was converted to be the primary chapel in 1834. The padres office was at the far end of the building and a large central room, La Sala, was used by the padres to entertained visitors and travelers.
Mission La Purisima Gardens & Fountain
Mission La Purisima Gardens & Fountain

Adjacent to the third building is the mission garden complete with fountains. The mission road, El Camino Real, ran along the front of all three buildings and between the padres residence and the mission garden. The proximity of the El Camino Real insured that the mission met all the travelers.





Mission La Purisima Indian Dwelling
Mission La Purisima Indian Dwelling




The Indian dwellings were located across the road from the mission buildings.

The mission was under Spanish control until 1822 when the Mexican Revolution gave control of all California missions to the new Mexican Government. In 1834 the Mexican Government secularized the missions and eventually distributed all the property to private owners. 
Mission La Purisima Visitor Center CCC Display
Mission La Purisima Visitor Center CCC Display





At the end of the Mexican War in 1848, ownership of all California was ceded to the America Government who eventually returned ownership of most of the missions to the Catholic Church. The lands returned were only the mission proper, not the surrounding lands. Mission La Purisima was returned in 1874. The Mission property was donated to the State of California in the 1930s and restored by the CCC as a state park.



The experience of Mission La Purisima is unlike most of the other California missions because you can sense what mission life must have been like. The visitor center offers periodic costumed docent tours and other events that give even more insight into daily life.

We left the mission and eventually made our way to the site of the first mission on the south side of Lompoc. This site contains the ruins of the original mission and an interpretive trail. Make sure you pick up the brochure for "Mission Vieja" at the State Park before you go. The brochure details exactly where the remaining ruins are located and how to get there.

See the Mission La Purisima page on FortWiki.com for more information and pictures.

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