Mission San Francisco Solano

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Spanish missions in California

Deakin SFS circa 1899.jpg
Mission San Francisco Solano, circa 1899.[1]
Location: Sonoma, California
Coordinates: 38° 17′ 38″ N, 122° 27′ 21″ W
Name as Founded: La Misíon de San Francisco Solano de Sonoma [2]
English Translation: The Mission of Saint Francis Solano of Sonoma
Patron Saint: Saint Francis Solanus of Montilla, Spain
Nickname(s): "Sonoma Mission" [3]
"Last of the Missions" [3]
Founding Date: July 4, 1823 [4]
Founded By: Father José Altimíra [5]
Founding Order: Twenty-first
Military District: Second [6]
Native Tribe(s):
Spanish Name(s):
Coast Miwok, Patwin,
Pomo, Suisunes, Wappo
Primordial Place Name(s): Huchi [7]
Baptisms: 1,008 [8]
Marriages: 263 [8]
Burials: 500 [8]
Year of Neophyte Population Peak: 1832 [9][10]
Neophyte Population: 996 [9][10]
Neophyte Population in 1832: 996 [9][10]
Secularized: November 3, 1834
Caretaker: California Department of Parks and Recreation
Current Use: Museum
California Historical Landmark: #3
Web Site: http://www.napanet.net/~sshpa/mission.htm

Mission San Francisco Solano is a former religious outpost established by Spanish colonists on the west coast of North America in the present-day State of California. Founded on July 4, 1823 by Roman Catholics of the Franciscan Order (planned as an asistencia, or "sub-mission" of Mission San Rafael Arcángel), the settlement was the last in the twenty-one mission Alta California chain. Named after a Spanish-born missionary to the Indians of Peru known as the "Wonder Worker of the New World," the post was the northernmost of all of the Spanish missions. Designated as a California Historical Landmark, today the Mission operates as a museum administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Another mission bearing the name San Francisco Solano was founded in 1700 in Coahuila, Mexico.


Mission Period (1769 – 1833)

During the years the Mission was active, General Mariano Vallejo resided in town. He was tasked with monitoring the activities of the Russians at their nearby settlement of Fort Ross (krepost' rus'), and with establishing peaceful relations with the Native Americans of the region.[11] Vallejo helped to build the town of Sonoma and even paid for the rebuilding of the small Mission chapel. There were always soldiers and settlers in the town of Sonoma during the Mexican period. The Franciscan Fathers grew grapes and produced sacramental wine from the first vineyard in the Sonoma Valley, which was first planted in 1825.

Rancho Period (1834 – 1849)

By 1839, the Mission was in ruins and unoccupied. Through the years the Mission saw many different uses, among these a blacksmith's shop, a barn, and even a storeroom.

California Statehood (1850 – 1900)

In 1846, European settlers took over the town in what has come to be known as the "Bear Flag Revolt." It was during this time that the Mission was sold to a man who used the chapel entrance as a saloon and stored his liquor and hay in the chapel. The Mission eventually became a parish church serving the Pueblo and Sonoma Valley until it was sold to a private interest in 1881.

20th century and beyond (1901 – present)

In 1903, the Historic Landmark League bought the remains of Mission San Francisco Solano. Restoration was completed in 1913. The restored chapel burned in 1970. Today, the Mission is part of the Sonoma State Historic Park. It is open to visitors and has a small museum located in the padres' quarters.

Other designations

  • National Register of Historic Places #NPS-75000489 — Sonoma Plaza District
  • California Historical Landmark — San Francisco Solano Mission Vineyard

Notes and references

  1. (PD) Painting: Edwin Deakin
  2. Leffingwell, p. 161
  3. 3.0 3.1 Weber
  4. Yenne, p. 182
  5. Ruscin, p. 196
  6. Forbes, p. 202
  7. Ruscin, p. 195
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Krell, p. 315: as of December 31, 1832; information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California. Mission Solano witnessed the fewest number of baptisms, marriages, and burials of any settlement in the Alta California chain. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "krell315" defined multiple times with different content
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Krell, p. 315: Information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Engelhardt 1920, pp. 300-301
  11. Nordlander, p. 10