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Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano was initially established October 30, 1775, but quickly abandoned due to unrest with the local population; it was re-established about a year later on November 1, 1776.Luis Obispo de Tolosa was established fifth, dedicated to Saint Louis of Toulouse, who'd earned a reputation of serving the poor, feeding the hungry - and sadly, was dead at age 23 from a fever.

The original church made of adobe was in a state of decay - and was simply too small. As such, the Mission community began construction of an impressive edifice of stone - the only one in the California Mission system - known affectionately as the Great Stone Church. Construction began in 1797, and after nine exhaustive years, was completed in 1806. (This included repairs needed after a November 1800 earthquake that resulted in cracks in the walls.) Complicating matters, the master stonemason Isidro Aguilar died about 1803, and workers tried to match his keen eye... but walls were somewhat irregular in places. Tragically, only six years later, a massive 7.5-magnitude earthquake on December 8, 1812 struck, killing 40 during mass and all but leveling the church. Only passing efforts were made to rebuild in 1815, but absent skilled artisans, the effort was soon abandoned.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

The Mission fell victim to the secularization in 1834; the Franciscians all but abanoned the site, and locals made off with most anything left of value. The property was actioned off about 1840 for $710. It was not until the 1880s that some efforts at preservation and restoration took place, starting with the removal of over 400 tons of rubbish and debris. Work of preservation continued well into the 1950s under the care of several individuals and groups.

Mission San Juan Capistrano Mission San Juan Capistrano

Founded: November 1, 1776 (#7) by Father Fermin Lausen (1775 effort), and Father Junipero Serra and Gregorio Amurrio (1776), in present-day San Juan Capistrano, California at 26801 Ortega Highway.

Visit: Admission $10 adults, $9 seniors 60+, $7 children 4-11, children under 4 are free; field trip pricing varies; as of July 2018. 10am - 6pm (Summer hours, generally aligning to Daylight Saving Time); 10am - 5:30pm (Winter hours, generally Standard Time). Closes at noon on Good Friday and Christmas Eve; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Learn more: Mission's Web Site * Wikipedia: Mission San Juan Capistrano * Photos I Took * No tour map from Mission San Juan Capistrano)

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