What is the History of Mission La Purisima Concepci?n?

Mission La Purisima

Mission La Purisima - Photo from HABS

Father Fermin Lasuen, second Father-Presidente of the Alta California Mission Chain, founded the Mission La Purisima Concepcion on December 8th, 1787. It was the 11th California mission, and it was named for the “Immaculate Conception of Mary the Most Pure.”

The Relocation of Mission La Purisima

The earthquake of 1812 hit the original structure’s location hard. The building collapsed, and the rains that followed the earthquake washed away what remained of the mission. Undeterred, the missionaries moved the site four miles to the northeast and began constructing a hardier building.

Stairway at Mission La Purisima - HABS

Stairway at Mission La Purisima - HABS

The Architecture of Mission La Purisima

Unlike the other missions in California, La Purisima was not built as a quadrangle; rather, it was constructed in a straight line. The missionaries designed this new structure to be much more earthquake resistant. The adobe walls stood 4_ feet thick, and were reinforced to the South and west (the direction from which the original earthquake came). This design was so sturdy, the buildings all still stand today.

Indian Rebellion at La Purisima

In 1824, when Indians mounted a rebellion at the Mission Santa Ines, the Natives from La Purisima offered to help. After the fight at Santa Ines, the Indians returned to La Purisima and took over the mission. They held it for one month, at which point soldiers arrived to retake the site. A three-hour battle ensued, and the Indians lost. As a deterrent for other Natives, the church punished the rebels harshly, putting two to death and imprisoning eight others.

The Indians at Mission La Purisima were hesitant to return after the revolt. Many left the mission, retreating to tribes in the mountains. Because of this loss of labor, the mission suffered harsh economic problems.

Mission Crops and Animals

Like most California missions, the Mission San La Purisima Concepci?n supported itself and the Native inhabitants of the area by growing crops of wheat and corn. They also raised herds of horses and cattle, and cultivated grapes in a vineyard. The local Indians were extremely cooperative in working for the mission; learning trades like weaving and candle making. It was best known for its wine and fruit.

Mission La Purisima Concepci?n Today

Today, the Mission La Purisima Concepci?n is the only California mission completely restored to its original appearance. The 37 rooms of the mission are furnished, and volunteers give guided tours through the buildings. The guides, dressed in full period costume, also give demonstrations of Indian trades in the mission courtyard. They exhibit techniques for candle making and weaving.