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Footsteps of History

The California Missions

San Francisco




Mission San Francisco de Asis
(Mission Dolores)
Founded 26 June 1776
by Father Francisco Palóu
Naming of Mission:
The mission was named for Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order.
The name Mission Dolores is a more common name for Mission San Francisco de Asis.
Location:
At the intersection of Dolores and 16th Street in San Francisco
History:
In June of 1776, Father Francisco Palou and Lt. Jose Moraga, with a number of others, arrived in the area. They arrived before the ship which carried most of their supplies. But this did not stop them from commencing the work they were sent to do, establish a new presidio and mission. The new settlement was laid out and a site selected for the mission. The mission site was along a small laguna, which is a little inlet, which had been discovered the previous year during explorations. The Laguna had been named Laguna de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores which name became associated with the new mission. In fact, it is more well known as Mission Dolores than as Mission San Francisco de Asis.
Though all the missions were troubled with runaway neophytes, this mission had the worst record. Some say it was mostly due to the weather in the area and all the sickness it brought. Others lay blame with the mission's proximity to the Presidio and the soldiers influence. The climate in San Francisco was cold and damp which did not help the local Coastonoan Indians who came to the mission. They were already weakened by the many diseases brought in by foreigners so the chill in the air caused many to become more sick and many died. Mission San Rafael was built as a hospital mission in 1817, first as just an asistencia mission to San Francisco, but later approved as a full-fledged mission. The Indians were able to improve their health in the newer area.
The mission moved to a more favorable area in 1782 with a new adobe church dedicated in 1791. Father Palou left themission in 1785. The quadrangle was finally completed in 1798. It is known as an extremely well-built church, even withstanding the major San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. It is made of whitewashed adobe brick with a red tiled roof. Though the front of the building appears to have many separate columns, it is actually one single block of adobe bricks 10 feet thick, 22 feet wide which was set on a rock foundation four feet below the surface. It is the oldest intact building in the area.
For a time, one of the Padres wanted to close both Mission Dolores and its asistencia, San Rafael in favor of the new Sonoma mission, but in the end, all three mission were kept open. The mission was not successful in growing crops near the mission, but had to rely on land it owned almost 20 miles away. They used the crops as trade rather than to eat. The Mission struggled during most of its active existence.
In 1834, when the missions were secularized, Mission San Francisco de Asis was the first one to comply. The Indians were told if they didn't return the mission and lands would be sold to others. They didn't return, but no one wanted to buy the land either. The mission was later used for many non-church activities such as horse racing and gambling. Today, the mission is still an active Parish Church with mass held regularly. The large Basilica next door is also used for services.
Contact the Mission:
Mission San Francisco de Asis
3321 Sixteenth Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
Mailing address: 3321 - 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
Telephone: 415-621-8203
Fax: 415-621-2294
Mission Trivia:
the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Serra.
Registered Landmark Number One of the City and County of San Francisco, California
Mission Links
Picture taken after 1906 earthquake
California State Historical Landmark #327
More information for the Mission
Mission Dolores Church information
Historical information for the mission

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This page was last updated on 28 June 2012 at 11:22 pm
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