Mission Santa Barbara

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Mission Santa Barbara (1786-1834) - A Spanish mission established in 1786 by Father Fermin Lasuen in present day Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California. Associated with the Presidio of Santa Barbara. Named for Saint Barbara, a 3rd century Catholic martyr. Secularized in 1834.

Mission Santa Barbara 1808 Moorish Fountain
Mission Santa Barbara Church Interior
Mission Santa Barbara
Mission Santa Barbara Interior Courtyard

The Spanish Period (1769-1821)

Mission Santa Barbara Church Facade
Mission Santa Barbara Veranda

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 Santa Barbara was founded on 4 Dec 1786, by Father Fermin Lasuen, as the 10th of twenty-one Spanish missions founded in California.

The mission church was completed in 1820 with a single bell tower. The second tower was added in 1831 but collapsed and was rebuilt in 1833. The two bell towers contain six bells.

Mexican Period (1822-1846)

Mission Santa Barbara 1818 Lavanderia - Wash Basin

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 Santa Barbara was secularized in 1834.

The American Period (1846-Present)

Mission Santa Barbara 1890 Moreton Bay Fig Tree

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 Santa Barbara was returned to the Catholic Church on 18 Mar 1865 by President Abraham Lincoln. The area returned was the mission proper not the surrounding lands.

Current Status

Mission Santa Barbara Classic View

Active Roman Catholic Church operated by the Franciscans in Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California. Museum and gift shop. Self guided tour that includes the church interior, inner courtyard and cemetery. The museum is at the end of the tour and includes lots of vintage photographs and artifacts. In front of the mission is an 1808 Moorish fountain and an 1818 Lavanderia or Wash Basin that was used as the original mission laundry.

Location: Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 34.438333 Long: -119.713917

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 328'



Visited: 5 Dec 2012

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