Interesting Facts About the Old Mission of Santa Barbara

The Old Mission Santa Barbara is iconic. Unless you’re a local, and maybe even then too, it might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of our city. It’s a beautiful part of our region’s history. Here’s what you might not know.


Old Mission Santa Barbara — a.k.a. the Santa Barbara Mission — is a Spanish mission that Padre Fermín Lasuén of the Franciscan order established in December of 1786.



At present day, the Old Mission Santa Barbara is still held by the Church — the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Mission houses and archive library for non-profit educational and research, which though independent from Mission Santa Barbara still lives on the same campus. It is among the oldest libraries in California.


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An earthquake in 1812 destroyed the buildings. Reconstruction completed and the Mission was dedicated again in 1820. In the decades that followed, the Mission alternately served as a school and seminary, though those facilities were eventually relocated.


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The Mission serves Santa Barbara today as a Catholic church.



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The Mission became a National Historic Landmark in 1939.


According to the Office of Historic Preservation, “Portions of five units of its extensive waterworks, built by Indian labor and preserved in this part, are a filter house, Spanish gristmill, sections of aqueducts, and two reservoirs, the larger of which, built in 1806, is used today as part of the city water system. The fountain and lavadero are nearby, in front of the mission, and a dam built in 1807 is located in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, one and one-half miles up Mission Canyon. Only ruins remain of the mission’s pottery kiln, guard house, and tanning vats.”



What are your favorite things to do in Santa Barbara? We have plenty more ideas for you. Check out our favorites for dining and shopping, if nature and history isn’t really your thing. So will you come on by any time soon?


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