Mission La Purisma

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Mission La Purisima Concepcion de Maria Santisima

(The Immaculate Conception of Mary the Most Pure)

A brief history

The Mission La Purisima Concepcion de Maria Santisima is the 11th mission founded in California. It was founded on December 8, 1787 by Friar Fermin Lasuen. Named to honor the Virgin Mary who, according to doctrine, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.


In March of 1788 soldiers and workmen arrived to start building, delayed by the rainy season. In early April Father Lasuen arrived with two padres to take charge. In only four months, they had baptized seventy-five natives. Within three years the mission was doing very well. Father Mariano Payeras arrived for what became a nineteen-year service, which for four of those years he was the Father- President and Mission La Purisima was the seat of the government for all the missions.


The first building fell into ruins since it was hastily built. New facilities were completed in 1802, built of adobe and roofed in tile. The mission had a good period of productivity that was shattered when the earthquake of 1812 hit on the morning of December 21. The church was badly damaged and a second quake collapsed most of the buildings. Then to assure destruction, the hillside back of the mission opened and water flooded the site. Everything disintegrated or floated out to sea.


Temporary shelters were set up about four miles to the northeast, on the other side of the river. Construction of a new mission was begun. Under Father Payeras, the natives work to complete the buildings. Earthquake resistance was designed into these new buildings and as such it is the only mission complex not built in a quadrangle. Eventually the mission prospered with large herds, warehouses, a mill, a blacksmith shop, bakeries and other shops. Even a hospital was built.


In 1816 a drought found the mission and many sheep died, then in 1818 a fire swept through burning many of the homes. In 1823 Father Payeras died leaving the mission bereft of leadership. Since Mexico declared independence in 1821, the missions had been on their own with no supplies and the no pay for

the soldiers. Revolt soon followed as the natives became restless under the acts of the soldiers. In 1824, at Mission Santa Ines a guard flogged a native. The natives attacked the soldiers and two natives died amid great destruction of the mission. When the natives at La Purisima heard of the news, they seized the mission. They fortified the grounds and mounted two old cannons. They held the mission for nearly a month, when soldiers from Monterey arrived and took the mission. Sixteen natives were dead with many wounded, while a soldier died and three were wounded. The soldiers looted the weapons. Seven natives were condemned to death and eighteen others were imprisoned.


Soon after this fight, secularization arrived and Mission Purisima collapsed into ruin. In 1845 the land and treasures were sold to the Don Juan Temple of Los Angeles for $1,100 dollars. In 1933 the Union Oil Company donated the mission property and the surrounding area to the public. This area is now a 966 acre state historic park. The National Park Service and the C.C.C. started reconstruction. In 1934, only a few fragments of walls were left and in 1951 the entire mission was rebuilt using original tools and methods wherever possible. The mission was then turned over to the state to administer as a Historic Park. Ten fully restored buildings, with 37 furnished rooms, can now be seen as they originally appeared.

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