Mission San Gabriel

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Mission San Gabriel (1771-1834) - A Spanish mission established in 1771 by Father Junipero Serra in present day San Gabriel, Los Angeles County, California. Associated with the Presidio of San Diego Named for the Archangel Gabriel. Secularized in 1834. Also known as Mission San Gabriel Arcangel.

Mission San Gabriel Church Interior
Mission San Gabriel Bell Wall
Mission San Gabriel Church

The Spanish Period (1769-1821)

Mission San Gabriel Cannon
Mission San Gabriel Fountain

The Spanish period began in California with the building of Mission San Diego de Alcala, and the Presidio of San Diego in 1769. The Spanish Presidio provided a support system for the attached missions that included military troops. The mission provided provided a complete community for the converted native peoples that included agriculture and industry activities as well as religious instruction and services. Typically a very limited military presence was maintained at the missions and the presidio acted as the garrison for the surrounding missions. The San Gabriel was founded on 8 Sep 1771, by Junipero Serra, as the 4th of twenty-one Spanish missions founded in California.

Mexican Period (1822-1846)

Mission San Gabriel Priest Quarters

The Mexican period began with the end of the Mexican Revolution around 1820. Mexican troops occupied the presidios and Mexican governors ran the province of Alta California. The Mexican government began the process of secularization (turning church lands over to private interests) around 1831 and passed laws in 1833 mandating secularization of all missions in Mexico. Secularization gradually ended church ownership of community property. Most of the missions and presidios were abandoned and fell into disrepair as the lands were redistributed to private owners. The Mission San Gabriel was secularized in November 1834 and the Mission structures began to deteriorate.

The American Period (1846-Present)

Mission San Gabriel Tannery Vats

The Mexican War was declared by the U.S. Congress on 11 May 1846 in response to a Mexican attack on U.S. troops in Texas. The declaration of war opened the door for American occupation of California. The American period began when American forces occupied San Diego in 1846. With end of the war, Mexico ceded all of upper California to the Americans in 1848 and a new round of land redistribution began.

On 19 Feb 1853, Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany filed a claim on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church for the return of all former mission lands in the State of California. Ownership of 1,051 acres (for all practical intents being the exact area of land occupied by the original mission buildings, cemeteries, and gardens) was transferred back to the Catholic Church by land patents and proclamations signed by U.S. Presidents between 1855 and 1874.

Mission San Gabriel Return Documents, Museum Display

The Mission San Gabriel was returned to the Catholic Church on 19 Nov 1859 by President James Buchanan.

Current Status

Restored Mission in San Gabriel, Los Angeles County, California.

USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 246014

Location: San Gabriel, Los Angeles County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 34.097386 Long: -118.1063

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 407'



Visited: 17 Jan 2013

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