Mission San Fernando

  • 01 of 08

    Mission San Fernando Rey

    kendra k/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Mission San Fernando was the seventeenth Spanish mission built in California. It was founded on September 8, 1797, by Father Fermin Lasuen. The name San Fernando de Espana was to honor Saint Ferdinand III, King of Spain.

    Interesting Facts about Mission San Fernando

    Travelers stopped at the mission so often that the fathers kept adding onto the convento wing to accommodate them until the hospice (hotel) became known as the "long building" of the El Camino Real.

    Actor Bob Hope is buried in the mission cemetery.

    Where Is Mission San Fernando Located?

    Mission San Fernando is at 15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd.in Mission Hills, CA.

    This mission does not have a website. You can try calling 818-361-0186 for current hours.

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  • 02 of 08

    Mission San Fernando Interior

    Interior of the San Fernando Mission
    Rachel Titiringa/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This mission is an exact replica, rebuilt after an earthquake.

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  • 03 of 08

    Mission San Fernando Altar

    Altar at Mission San Fernando
    Rachel Titiriga/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The screen on the wall behind the main altar is called a reredos. You can find out about it and more terms in the California mission glossary

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  • 04 of 08

    Mission San Fernando Bishop's Room

    Bishop's Room at San Fernando Mission
    Rachel Titiriga/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    California's first bishop, Francisco García Diego y Moreno, lived at the Convento from 1820 to 1835. 

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  • 05 of 08

    Mission San Fernando Governor's Room

    Governor's Room at Mission San Fernando
    Konrad Summers/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Mission San Fernando had a room for important guests that was somewhat nicer and more comfortable than the typical rooms. They called it the “governor’s chamber.”  

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  • 06 of 08

    History of Mission San Fernando: 1827 to Present Day

    Fountain at Mission San Fernando
    Kent Kanouse/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

    The San Fernando Valley was first discovered by the Portola expedition in 1769, but it wasn't until 1797 that San Fernando Mission was established. In the late 1790s, Father Lasuen, successor to Father Serra, wanted to close the gaps in the El Camino Real, and he established four missions in four months, including San Fernando Mission.

    Francisco Reyes, mayor of the Los Angeles pueblo, claimed the best spot in the area. He had acquired rights to the land shortly after Los Angeles was founded, and he raised cattle there. Some say Reyes got his land from the king and had to be forcibly evicted while others say he had only been using the land and gave it up gracefully.

    The San Fernando Mission was founded on September 8, 1797, and named for Saint Ferdinand III, King of Spain in the 1200s. Five Indian boys and five Indian girls were baptized at the San Fernando Mission that day. Reyes was a patron of the formal dedication and the godfather of the first child baptized.

    Early Years of San Fernando Mission

    The San Fernando Mission church was completed within two months after the dedication, and there were already more than 40 neophytes here. Because it was so close to the Los Angeles pueblo, there was a market for their goods.

    By 1804, nearly 1,000 Indians lived at San Fernando Mission. By 1806, they were raising cattle and producing hides, leather good, tallow, and cloth.

    Its closeness to Los Angeles and location along a favorite traveling route made this place unique.

    San Fernando Mission from 1810-1830

    In 1810, work began on the convento, but it took twelve years to complete it.

    After 1811, the San Fernando Mission native population began to decline, and productivity was threatened. By 1812, there were too few workers to farm the produce required for the military in Los Angeles. When an earthquake damaged the buildings in 1812, there were not enough workers to make the repairs.

    Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1822. In the California province, there were struggles to control the land. A few Indians in the valley received land grants, but most of the surviving Indians remained dependent on the San Fernando Mission.

    When Mexican Governor Echeandia arrived in 1827, Spanish Father Ibarra was in charge. Father Ibarra refused to renounce his allegiance to Spain, but the Mexican government let him stay there because they couldn't find anyone else to run the operations.

    Secularization at San Fernando Mission

    Starting in the 1830s, the California officials began confiscating mission lands, although they usually left the buildings under the control of the church. From 1834 to 1836, most of the Indians stayed. The rest looked for work in Los Angeles or joined relatives and friends who were still living in the nearby hills.

    In 1835, Father Ibarra left because he could not tolerate the secularization. In 1842, gold was discovered on a nearby ranch. The area was overrun with prospectors. A rumor that the missionaries had been prospecting gold for years drew the gold-seekers to the church, and they dug up the floor looking for buried treasure. This digging continued into the early 1900s.

    The struggle between northern and southern Californians over the land intensified. In February 1845, two armed groups met at the Cahuenga Pass. They shot at each other for half a day, but the only casualties were two horses and a wounded mule. The northerners left, and Pio Pico became the new governor of California. In 1845, Governor Pio Pico leased the land to his brother Andres for $1,200 a year.

    The San Fernando Mission was abandoned in 1847. From 1857 to 1861, part of it was used as a stagecoach station. By 1888, the hospice was used as a warehouse and stable, and in 1896, the quadrangle became a hog farm.

    In 1896, Charles Fletcher Lummis began a campaign to reclaim the property, and conditions improved.

    San Fernando Mission in the 20th Century

    In 1923, San Fernando Mission became a church again, and the property was turned over to the Oblate fathers. Mission artifacts, including the soap works, original fountain and water reservoir are located in a park across the street.

    Today, because San Fernando Mission is close to Hollywood, it has been used for many movie location shootings.

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  • 07 of 08

    Mission San Fernando Layout, Floor Plan, Buildings and Grounds

    ©Betsy Malloy 2002

    The mission quickly outgrew its first small church and had soon completed a quadrangle and a larger church. Barracks, housing for 1,000 neophytes, workshops and storerooms surrounded the quadrangle. The buildings had tile roofs. The church is rectangular, 185 feet long and 35 feet wide. The walls taper from five feet thick at the base to three feet thick at the top.

    The convento (missionary quarters) at San Fernando is unusual. It was added later, and not connected to the main church. Lots of people visited the mission, and the convento was enlarged until it was finally two stories high, 243 feet long and 50 feet wide, with a front colonnade of 20 arches. It was the largest adobe structure in California. The original convento was completed in 1822 and was used by Colonel John C. Fremont when his army invaded California in 1847.

    The 1812 earthquake damaged the church, but sturdy repairs were made. The building would have stood for a long time, but vandals removed the roof tiles, leaving the adobe walls to be destroyed by rains. The church floor was also dug up by people looking for gold.

    Restoration began in 1923, but the buildings were irreparably damaged in an earthquake in 1971. Exact replicas were constructed to replace them.

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  • 08 of 08

    Mission San Fernando Cattle Brand

    ©2014 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    The most successful year at San Fernando Mission was 1819, and they had 13,000 cattle and 8,000 sheep. Their herd of 2,300 horses was the third largest in possession of the missions. 

    The Mission San Fernando picture above shows its cattle brand. It was drawn from samples on display at Mission San Francisco Solano and Mission San Antonio.