Santa Ines Mission

Mission Santa Ines
Richard Cummins / Getty Images

Santa Ines Mission was the nineteenth one built in California, founded September 17, 1804, by Father Estevan Tapis.

Interesting Facts about Mission Santa Ines

Mission Santa Ines was the home of California's first seminary college. During the 1824 revolt, two Indians were killed at Mission Santa Ines.

Mission Santa Ines Timeline

Mission Santa Ines was founded in 1804. It was the last one built in Southern California. It only lasted for about 30 years before it was secularized.

Where Is Santa Ines Mission Located?

Mission Santa Ines
1760 Mission Drive
Solvang, CA‚Äč
Mission Website and current hours

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History of Santa Ines Mission: 1804 to 1820

Interior of Mission Santa Ines

Betsy Malloy Photography

Father Estevan Tapis and Captain Felipe de Goycoechea surveyed sites in the mission's area in 1798. They recommended the place the local Indians called Alajupapu, but changes in Spanish governors and Catholic leadership caused delays.

Finally, Father Tapis founded Santa Ines Mission on September 17, 1804, naming it for Saint Agnes. Two hundred Chumash Indians attended the first mass, and 23 were baptized.

Early Years of Santa Ines Mission

The first priests were Father Jose Rumualdo Gutierrez and Jose Antonio Calzada. By the end of 1804, they reported 112 converts, and there was constant construction in the early years.

Santa Ines Mission 1800-1820

By 1812, the complex was well built. Then, on December 21, 1812, two earthquakes struck. It took more than four years to repair the damage. In 1817, the mission produced 4,160 bushels of wheat; 4,330 bushels of corn and 300 bushels of beans. Records listed 1,030 converts; 287 marriages, and 611 deaths and its largest-ever population of 920.

Father Uria was in charge into the early 1820s. Building continued into the early 1820s when the church murals were painted.

Mission Santa Ines in the 1820s-1830s

When Mexico won independence from Spain, they had little money to support the missions. Soldiers were forced to get their supplies from the missions and pay with IOUs. They got no salary and became frustrated until their anger came out toward the Indians.

In 1824, a Spanish guard beat a Purisima Indian. That set off a revolt that spread to all the Santa Barbara area missions. At Santa Ines, two Indians were killed, buildings were burned, and the priests were taken hostage. The Indians burned the soldiers' quarters, but not the Fathers'. When the fire threatened the church, they stopped fighting and helped put the fire out.


After secularization in 1834, the Fathers kept the mission running for a while by selling its cattle, tallow, hides, and grain. Eventually, the Indians lost interest and drifted away.

In 1843, Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted part of the land to Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, first Bishop of California. He used it to create the first seminary in California, College of Our Lady of Refuge. The college later moved near Santa Ynez, where it stayed open until 1881.

The next Mexican Governor, Pio Pico, illegally sold Santa Ines Mission to Jose M. Covarrubias and Jose Joaquin Carrillo for $7,000 just weeks before the United States took California over from Mexico. The United States revoked the sale in 1851 and returned the mission to the church.

Santa Ines Mission in the 20th Century

The mission was never entirely abandoned, but the buildings fell into disrepair. Finally, in July 1904, Father Alexander Buckler was put in charge. He and his niece Mary Goulet spent 20 years restoring it and preserving its artwork and fabrics.

When Father Buckler retired in 1924, the church was offered back to the Franciscans, and Franciscan Capuchin fathers from Ireland took over. They modernized the buildings to make them livable. A full restoration began in 1947, returning the buildings to the way they were before the 1812 earthquake.

In 1989, a multi-million dollar project reconstructed eight of the 19 arches on the eastern facade and restored the east wing.

Santa Ines Mission is now an active parish church with regular services.

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Santa Ines Mission Layout, Floor Plan, Buildings and Grounds


Betsy Malloy Photography

Construction at Mission Santa Ines stared before the church was formally dedicated. The missions at Santa Barbara and La Purisima sent workers, and by the dedication, the first buildings were already complete, a row of buildings 232 feet long by 19 feet tall and wide with 30-inch thick walls, housing a church, sacristy, the Fathers' quarters and a granary.

Building continued for the next eight years. In 1805 another row of buildings, 145 feet long by 19 feet high and wide was added, and another 38 feet were completed in 1806. In 1806, a gallery was also added to protect walls from rain. New missionary houses built in 1807 and five soldiers' homes, a storehouse and guard house built in 1810 continued the expansion.

By 1811, after eight years of continuous building, the quadrangle, measuring 350 feet each side, was finished.

The following year, an earthquake damaged the church and buildings, creating huge cracks and toppling some of the walls. It took six more years to finish the church and adjacent campanario, which was dedicated on July 4, 1817. The church was 140 feet long and 25 feet wide with 30-foot tall buttressed walls five feet thick. The pine timber ceiling, made of wood brought from the mountains 30 miles away, supported a tiled roof.

Building continued into the 1820s, including a new grist mill, reservoirs and an elaborate water system to carry water from the mountains for livestock and crops.

The original bell tower fell in 1911 and was replaced with wood and plaster structure that lasted until 1949 when it was replaced with a concrete campanario holding bells cast for the mission in 1807, 1811 and 1818.

The statue of St. Agnes on the altar is believed to have been made at the mission by native artists. The reredos was painted by Indians in 1825 in a fresco style on the adobe walls, using plant-based colors.

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Santa Ines Mission Cattle Brand

Cattle Brand of Mission Santa Inez

Betsy Malloy Photography

In 1817, the mission inventory included 6,000 cattle; 5,000 sheep; 120 goats; 150 pigs; 120 pack mules and 70 horses.

The Santa Ines Mission 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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