Mission San Francisco de Asis

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    Mission Dolores (Also Called Mission San Francisco de Asis)

    ••• Mission San Francisco de Asis. Ken Lund/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Mission Dolores was founded June 26, 1776 by Father Francisco Palou. The official name Mission San Francisco de Asis honors Saint Francis of Assisi. 

    If you're here because you want to visit Mission Dolores, you may want to you may want to read up on its history first. That's on the next page. You can also continue through this guide to take a look at some pictures or just get the location which is below.

    If you're looking for background material for a California Fourth Grade report, use this page and the mission history on the next page. If you're building a model for your project, continue to check out the layout and floor plan and take a look at the pictures

    Interesting Facts about Mission Dolores

    • Mission San Francisco de Asis is also known as Mission Dolores
    • Mission San Francisco de Asis is the oldest intact mission building in California

    Mission Dolores Timeline

    • 1776 - Father Palao founds Mission San Francisco de Asis
    • 1782 - Mission San Francisco de Asis moves
    • 1785 - Father Palao leaves...MORE Mission San Francisco de Asis
    • 1791 - Adobe church completed
    • 1817 - Hospital built in San Rafael
    • 1835 - Secularization
    • 1906 - Mission San Francisco de Asis survives earthquake and fire

    Where Is Mission Dolores Located?

    Mission San Francisco de Asis
    3321 16th Street
    San Francisco, CA
    Mission Website and current hours

    Mission San Francisco de Asis is located at the intersection of 16th and Dolores Streets. From the waterfront or Union Square, take Market Street southwest to Dolores and turn left. From US 101, follow it north to where the freeway ends on Duboce Avenue, then turn left on Market and left again on Dolores Street.

    To get to Mission San Francisco de Asis using public transportation, take BART to the 16th Street Mission stop, then walk west three blocks to Dolores Street.

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    History of Mission San Francisco de Asis: 1776 to Present Day

    Mission San Francisco in 1895
    ••• Mission San Francisco in 1895. Underwood Archives/Getty Images

    On June 17, 1776, Lieutenant Jose Moraga, 16 soldiers and small group of colonists left the Monterey Presidio for San Francisco Bay. The party included wives and children of the soldiers, as well as some Spanish-American settlers. They brought about 200 head of cattle along. Most of the supplies for the new settlements were sent by sea in the ship San Carlos, which left at the same time as the land party.

    Among the travelers were Fathers Francisco Palou and Pedro Cambon. It was a four day journey. When they arrived, they set up a camp on the bank of a lake, originally discovered by the explorer de Anza and named Laguna de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores (Lake of our Lady of Sorrows).

    The commander ordered an arbor to be constructed, and the Fathers celebrated the first mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 27, 1776 - just five days before the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. The Mexican authorities had promised Father Junipero Serra that he could name the...MORE newest in the chain after his patron saint if his saint found a port. This location had one, so it was named after Saint Francis. However, it later came to be called Mission Dolores instead.

    On August 18, the ship San Carlos arrived. Construction of Mission Dolores began immediately. Dedication was postponed while the Fathers awaited word from Captain Rivera. Rivera, didn't want to build Mission Dolores, but his superior the Viceroy in Mexico City disagreed. The Fathers waited for weeks to hear from Rivera, but finally decided to go ahead with the dedication on October 9, after receiving the needed church documents. Some say this date is the official date of the founding, and it is the date that Father Palao recorded in the church records. However, many use the June 26 date.

    Early Years of Mission Dolores

    Mission Dolores soon became popular with the natives of the area, who enjoyed the food and protection it offered. Some say they did not understand the Spaniards' complex religious ideas, while others say the priests were too harsh and strict with them. Whatever the reason, many of them ran away from Mission Dolores (200 in 1796 alone). The problem with runaways was worse here, where the natives had many temptations from the nearby presidio as well as other natives across the bay. Runaways also caused tensions with the military, who grew tired of going out to retrieve them.

    After moving the Mission Dolores church several times, the current chapel was built and completed in 1791.

    Mission Dolores 1800-1820

    The damp weather and diseases carried by the foreigners took their toll on the native neophytes, and 5,000 of them died during a measles epidemic. Those who survived suffered in the damp climate, and the priests wanted to find a better place for them to recover. In 1817, the Fathers opened a hospital in San Rafael, north of the bay, where the weather was better.

    Mission Dolores in the 1820s-1830s

    In the 1830s, the place began to be called Mission Dolores, after the nearby creek and lagoon, and also to differentiate it from San Francisco Solano.

    Secularization and Mission Dolores

    In 1834, Mexico decided to close Mission Dolores and all the others, and sell the land. Mission Dolores was the first to be secularized. The Indians did not want to come back, and no one would buy it, so it remained the property of the Mexican government. In 1846, California became part of the United States, and American priests took over.

    When the California Gold Rush began in 1849, the area became a popular place for horse racing, gambling and drinking. Land reforms took the land away, and soon there were more Irish than Spanish grave markers in the old cemetery.

    Mission Dolores in the 20th Century

    The old Mission Dolores building is surrounded by the city today. The church and its cemetery are all that survive of the original complex, but it continues to serve the people of the neighborhood and masses are sometimes held in it. However, most services are held in the newer basilica next door.

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  • 03 of 10

    Mission San Francisco de Asis Layout, Floor Plan, Buildings and Grounds

    sfran-layout-1000x1500.jpg
    ••• ©Betsy Malloy 2002

    The first building at Mission San Francisco was a tule (reed) arbor built by the Spanish soldiers. As soon as the ship San Carlos arrived with supplies in August, construction on more permanent buildings began, and the first buildings were completed by September 1, including a small chapel made of wood plastered with mud, with a tule reed roof. These buildings were about one-tenth of a mile from the present location.

    From 1776 to 1788, four different churches were built, each one torn down because it stood on good soil for farming, and good farm land was scarce. By 1781, the mission settled at its current location, and a wing of the quadrangle was finished.

    The current building at Mission San Francisco was started in 1785 and completed in 1791. The flexible structure, with redwood logs fastened together by rawhide strips and wooden pegs, was so sturdy that it survived the earthquakes of 1906 and 1989. The building is 114 feet long and 22 feet wide, with 4-foot-thick adobe walls....MORE Historical records say it took 36,000 adobe bricks to build it.

    Inside the chapel, the current tile floor was originally dirt, and there were no seats, but otherwise little has been altered since 1791. The decoration on the ceiling is repainted in the original design, which is taken from the design of the Ohlone men's face paint. The walls were originally painted with designs, too, but they were painted over in the 1950s. On the right wall is a large nineteenth century canvas painting that was once placed in front of the church every year during Easter week.

    The altars are all top quality Mexican art. The reredos came from San Blas, Mexico in 1796, and the two side altars, also made in Mexico, were brought to the mission in 1810. The mission's three bells were cast in Mexico in the 1790s and honor saints Joseph, Francis and Martin. The fonts set into the back walls are plates imported from China by way of the Philippines.

    There are four marked burial places within the chapel walls: William Leidesdorff, an early Afro-American businessman; the Noe Family; Lieutenant Joaquin Moraga, the leader of the founding expedition, and Richard Carroll, the first pastor after San Francisco became an archdiocese.

    After the mission survived the 1906 earthquake, the wooden trusses were paralleled with steel to strengthen it. The historic structure faced its biggest challenge in the late 1990s when wood-eating beetles threatened to destroy it bite by bite. However, through extensive efforts by the mission staff and scientists, the beetles were killed and the mission was saved.

    Today, Mission San Francisco is the oldest intact building in the city of San Francisco.

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    Pictures of Mission San Francisco de Asis

    ••• Cattle Brand of Mission San Francisco de Asis. ©2014 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

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

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    Mission San Francisco de Asis Exterior Picture

    Exterior of Mission Dolores
    ••• Exterior of Mission Dolores. ©2004 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Mission San Francisco de Asis Interior Picture

    Interior of Mission San Francisco de Asis
    ••• Interior of Mission San Francisco de Asis. ©2006 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Mission San Francisco de Asis Altar Picture

    Altar at Mission San Francisco de Asis
    ••• Altar at Mission San Francisco de Asis. ©2006 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Mission San Francisco de Asis Ceiling

    Ceiling at Mission San Francisco de Asis
    ••• Ceiling at Mission San Francisco de Asis. ©2006 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Mission San Francisco de Asis Diorama Replica Photo

    Diorama at Mission San Francisco
    ••• Diorama at Mission San Francisco. ©2004 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Mission San Francisco de Asis Model Picture

    Model of Mission San Francisco de Asis
    ••• Model of Mission San Francisco de Asis. ©2004 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.