Mission La Purisima Concepcion

Phyliss sig horse and sunsetI spent two months in one of my favorite places in the United States … Central California where the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) runs right through town. Of course, it happens to be my oldest daughter’s, son-in-law’s and grandkid’s home and I went out for graduation and birthdays. It‘s not only a beautiful part of the world, but it is also the home of one of my favorite missions on the El Camino Real (King’s Highway) … Mission La Purisima Concepcion.
Although it was founded in December of 1787 and is located a little distance from the El Camino Real, it’s in my kid’s back yard, literally. As a matter of fact, all of my grandchildren who went to school there actually could walk to the Mission from their school yards. It’s a wonderful and exciting place in history. I hope when you are finished reading my blog you’ll see why I’d love to write an historical romance on the twenty-one Spanish missions running along the King’s Highway.

I’m going to give you a thirty-second overview of the missions as a whole, and particularly La Purisima.Mission 1 mission soldiers quarters mission 2
The Spanish missions comprise of a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Franciscans between 1769 and 1823. The missions gave Spain a valuable toehold in the new frontier along the West Coast and also represented the first major effort by Europeans to colonize the area. I found this of interest, King Charles of Spain issued laws pertaining to the expansion.

The American Indian would be permitted to live in communities of their own.
Indians should be able to choose their own leaders.
No Indian was to be held slave.
No Indian was to live outside his own village.
No Spaniard was to stay in the Indian village for more than three days.
Indians were to be instructed in the Catholic faith.

Each mission was under the direction of two resident Padres, assisted by a small contingent of soldiers. In La Purisima’s case, the Chumash Indians, Padres, and soldiers occupied the Mission concurrently and each respected one another’s position. The Chumash were taught many skills from construction of adobe buildings to herding livestock, growing crops and weaving. Other missions provided much of the seeds and stock; therefore, the mission flourished.

The first Mission La Purisima was destroyed in 1812 by an earthquake, and the mission was moved to its present location. Then the mission period ended, the building were abandoned and fell in disrepair. The buildings and the land left behind were sold at public auction in 1845 for $1,110. In 1874, the United States returned the land to the Catholic Church but the buildings were in such bad condition that the church sold the land, and it was obtained by the State of California.

Restoration began in 1935 and today La Purisima is a State Historic Park where volunteers demonstrate what mission life was like in the early 1800’s.
Now you all, especially the writers, should see the elements of an historical romance developing in my mind. But something else developed during my trip that gives me more reason to continue to research this particular mission. I‘ll tell you about it on my next blog later this month on August 30th.

Have any of you visited a mission and what did you come away with in the way of feelings and thoughts?

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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com

24 thoughts on “Mission La Purisima Concepcion”

  1. Great post! I have been to the missions at San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Obispo and I loved the beauty and the history we found there. I also loved it when the swallows came back to Capistrano (an annual event).

    Cindy W.

    • Hi Cindy, glad to hear from you. I’ve been to the mission at SLO but need another visit for sure. Capistrano is one mission I definitely want to visit, but want to go there when the swallows return. I can only imagine what it’s like. Thanks so much for dropping by. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  2. Beautiful article Phyliss. I’ve never visited a mission, but you’ve I intrigued me. Thank you for sharing. Your grand hate lucky to have this history in their back yard.

    • Hi Tonya, glad to hear from you, too. The kids really enjoy the mission and its history. They go there a lot for school activities. As a matter of fact, my 4th grader grand had to do a project for the end of the year on a mission. Pictures, history and today’s look. I went with her to the Mission Santa Ines and it was so moving. We went twice and it was magical each time. I’ll likely blog on it and use my personal pictures. I had a lot of La Purisima, but didn’t have time to go through a zillion pictures on my computers to find them. Have a great day and thanks for commenting. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Janine, glad to hear from you. There are a lot of missions all over the U.S., so I hope one day you’ll get to visit one and hear and see its history. It’s wonderful! Have a great day. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Estella, glad you took the time to comment. Missions are really moving, not just for the history but for the beautiful chapels and places of worship. Many, like La Purisima, no longer have worship services, while others like Santa Ines has beautiful places of worship that are used for regular services. Hope you put visiting a mission on your bucket list. Have a great day, my friend. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  3. Great post, Phyliss! I can see the mystique and the ghosts that haunt these missions. I can see why you’re drawn to them. I’d love to be able to walk inside these but I doubt I’ll ever get a chance. I have been to several missions here in Texas though. Looking forward to your next post. Intriguing!


    • Hi Fellow Filly Linda. Oh we’ll go out to California when we can get a good priced flight and stay with my kids and go mission and ghost busting! LOL That’s a big hint on my next blog, but, as you know, I’m adding two personal stories that happened the same night by people unknown to one another!!! Can’t wait until the 30th to post it! Big hugs and much love to you, my friend. P

  4. I visited several missions visiting in Texas on a trip from Dallas through to Austin then San Antonio but of course the one that stands out in my mind was the Mission San Juan Capistrano, now known as the Alamo. Off topic but boy is San Antonio a beautiful city, especially the River Walk.
    But the whole trip was just wonderful.

    • Hi Eliza, I loved your comments. This same daughter and her family lived to San Antonio for several years when the college grandson and granddaughter began school. We spent a lot of time on the River Walk and downtown over the years. The Children’s Museum is awesome and of course the Alamo itself is breathtaking. You should see the Alamo at Christmas when it’s decorated. Truly beautiful! I have some pictures I’ve shared before, so I might well need to do them again. There are many, many military posts and missions in Texas. Thanks for the comments and big hugs from Texas. Phyliss

      • Phyllis, I forgot to tell you that although my mom was born and raised in her early life in Oklahoma, she went to High School in East Texas.. Ever heard of Gladewater?

      • Eliza, although we live in the Panhandle on the Caprock (Okla. above us and NM next to use)I believe Gladewater is in East Texas and if I’m not mistaken one of my grandmother’s sisters lived in Gladewater. Isn’t it sorta near Louisiana, lots of old buildings and antique stores? I don’t think I’ve been there but it sounds like a wonderful place to go to high school!

    • Hi Kim, glad to hear from you. Definitely put old missions in your bucket list. It’s worth the trip and if you have children, or grandchildren for that matter, make it a family trip. It’s definitely something you won’t forget. Hugs, Phyliss

  5. Hi Phyliss,

    Growing up in the southern part of the state of California, I have been able to visit the Mission de Alcala which is just beautiful. It is the first built here in the state. And many MANY years ago I visited the one in San Juan Capistrano as a child (where the swallows comeback.) They really are beautiful buildings and I’m so glad state of California has restored them over the years.

    • Hi Sister Filly Kathryn, I love California, and as I’ve already said Capistrano is definitely on my list of missions to visit and yes I want it to be when the swallows return! I think it’s wonderful how the State of California has restored many, many of the missions over the years. Our Alamo was run by the DAR for years but I think there recently was a change. I’m gonna try to make it to the mission you’ve visited one of these times I’m in California. Take care and have a great day, Miss Kathryn. Hugs, Phyliss

  6. Thank you for your great post, Phyliss. I have visited San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Obispo. San Miguel, Mexico has beautiful missions as well.

  7. Hi Melanie, glad to hear from you. Gosh, I’m so envious that you’ve visited San Juan Capistrano and SLO, too. I bet Mexico does have beautiful missions as well. If you ever get an opportunity to visit La Purisima, which is still very primitive like the original, then take the extra time to go see the beautiful “Hidden Gem of the Missions” in Solvang…the Santa Ines. It’s absolutely beautiful and is still in use. Thanks for stopping by. Big hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  8. Phyliss, what a terrific post. I have visited a number of missions, in fact live near one here on the California Central Coast..San Buenaventura, a few hours south of La Purisma. But I think this is one of my favorite ones. When I visited, it was still kind of a working rancho. I loved their donkeys.

    My daughter was married at a historic mansion affiliated with San Juan Capistrano Mission. Santa Inez and San Luis Obispo are also beautiful to visit.

    One needs to read Zia by Scott O’Dell (the same guy who wrote The Island of the Blue Dolphin IMO a must-read) to understand mission life and the horrible scourge, another one, upon our native peoples. Breaks my heart.


    • Island of the Blue Dolphin was a mandatory read in 4th grade. It was State History that year in school. I’ve been to La Purisima several times with growing up in Santa Maria. San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Missions are 2 hours and Santa Ynez is an hour from where your kids live in the town of Solvang, which is also a must see. There is so much history on the Central Coast. I’m in Bakersfield now, 2 hours East of Santa Maria. I loved the article you wrote!

  9. We visited some of the missions in the Southwest when we lived in Colorado. There were also several in Colorado we visited. We visit churches where ever we travel. We visited several last summer when in Arizona and New Mexico. They are a window on the people who settled and lived there as well as works of art.
    I think they show the pride of those who built them. The care with which they were built and the art that adorns them was a gift and a type of worship for those who did the work.

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