The Missions: Number 11

Founded by Father Presidente Fermin de Lasuen on December 8, 1787, who celebrated mass on the site known as the Plain of Rio Santa Rosa, Mission La Purisima Conception De Maria Santisima (Mission of the Immaculate Conception of Most Holy Mary) was number eleven in the chain of 21 California missions built by the Franciscan priesthood. During the mission’s early years, a water system was developed, more than 100 large and small adobe buildings were built, and crops and livestock flourished. A large and handsome church structure was completed in 1802, the doorway of which still stands in the city of Lompoc. Ten years later, however, a major earthquake and drenching rains damaged the mission beyond repair. Father Payeras, then in charge, was granted permission to rebuild four miles northwest in La Canada de los Berros (present-day Santa Barbara County), where there was a better water supply, a better climate, and closer access to El Camino Real, the main travel route.  In a few years La Purisima once again became a thriving community and great ranching enterprise. As there was little coin in Alta California, and there were needed supplies that the mission couldn’t produce, annual ships from San Blas, Mexico, brought china, sugar, fine cloth, and other commodities, which were exchanged for the mission’s soap, candles, wool, and leather goods. In 1824 the Indian neophytes rose up in armed revolt, but the rebellion ended a month later when soldiers from Monterey arrived. By order of the Mexican government La Purisima was secularized in 1834, and sold in 1845 to Juan Temple of Los Angeles for $1,000, subsequently changing ownership and uses several times until the buildings and other features collapsed from long neglect. Preservation and reconstruction efforts began a century later, in 1934. At present La Purisima Mission State Historic Park contains 1,928 acres of the original 300,000 acre mission property, and showcases a five-acre replica of a mission garden. Mission-era animals such as burros, horses, cattle, sheep, and goats inhabit corrals near the main mission compound of historic buildings.



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