Mission San Luis Obispo

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Mission San Luis Obispo (1772-1835) - A Spanish mission established in 1772 by Father Junipero Serra in present day San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County, California. Associated with the Presidio of Monterey. Named for Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse. Secularized in 1835. Also known as Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

Mission San Luis Obispo Church
Mission San Luis ObispoChurch Bell Tower, 5 Bells
Mission San Luis Obispo Museum & Church

The Spanish Period (1769-1821)

San Luis Obispo Church Interior

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 Mission San Luis Obispo was founded on 1 Sep 1772, by Father Junipero Serra, as the 5th of twenty-one Spanish missions founded in California.

Mexican Period (1822-1846)

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. Mission San Luis Obispo was secularized in 1835 and later everything but the church was sold for about $500 in 1845. Part of the mission later became a jail and a courthouse.

The American Period (1846-Present)

Mission San Luis Obispo Marker

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.

Captain John C. Fremont used the mission as a base of operations during the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846. Mission San Luis Obispo was returned to the Catholic Church in 1859 and became a parish church for the City of San Luis Obispo.

Current Status

Restored church and museum in San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County, California. The church has a unique "L" shaped bell tower with three bells at the front of the tower and two bells on the side of the tower.

USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 246024

Location: San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 35.2808079 Long: -120.6640603

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 210'



Visited: 26 Nov 2012

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