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Mission San Francisco Solano

Mission San Francisco Solano 

Mission San Francisco Solano was founded on July 4, 1823, in what is now Sonoma, and was originally planned to be an asistencia or “sub-mission” to Mission San Rafael ArcángelMission San Francisco Solano is the northernmost of the Spanish Missions in Alta Calfornia. An attempt to found a 22nd mission in what is now Santa Rosa was aborted. The Mission was the only mission built under Mexican Rule and the last to be built in Alta California. The Mission eventually grew to over 10,000 acres. In 1832, which was the Mission’s most prosperous year, over 900 Native American workers were in residence.

While the Mission was active, General Don Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo lived in town. At the time we visited, his home and the barracks in the town of Sonoma could be visited for no additional charge on the same day, after paying admission to Mission San Francisco Solano. Vallejo was assigned to monitor the Russian activity at nearby Fort Ross. Vallejo helped to build the town of Sonoma and paid for the rebuilding of the small Mission chapel in 18401841Franciscan Fathers grew grapes from the first vineyard in the Sonoma Valley (established 1825) to make sacramental wine. The Mission was secularized in 1834, and, according to Wikipedia, the Mission fell into ruin by 1839 and was used as a barn, a blacksmith shop, and a storeroom. In 1846, European settlers took over Sonoma during the Bear Flag Revolt and the entrance to the chapel became a saloon with a storeroom in the chapel. The Mission also became a parish church in Sonoma. The Mission was sold to a private interest in 1881 to allow construction of a larger church a few blocks away. In 1903, the remains of the Mission were purchased again and the restoration of the Mission as an Historic Landmark was completed in 1913. The restored chapel burned in 1970.

Today, 5 rooms of the original Mission remain. In the dining room, the Virgil Jorgensen Memorial Collection of paintings by his father. Chris, is displayed. From 1903 to 1905, Chris Jorgensen painted 61 paintings of what remained of the California Missions at that time. In the chapel, you can see the high pulpit, which is elevated to allow sound to carry in the room. The altar of the chapel is simple and beautiful. In the rear of the chapel is a holy water fount and a memorial plaque. María Ignacia Lopez de Carrillo, who was the mother-in-law of General Mariano Vallejo, is buried beneath the chapel floor. She traveled from San Diego to Sonoma with her unmarried children after her husband’s death.

The courtyard contains a shaded fountain and a kiln. The women’s quarters and workstations were located behind where the prickly pear cactus is now growing.

Today, the Mission is part of the Sonoma State Historic Park, and is located at the corner of First and Spain Streets in Sonoma.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®.

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