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Sonoma Mission - San Francisco Solano
The Sonoma Mission was the last Spanish mission built in California, founded in 1823 by Father Jose Altimira. Its official name is Mission San Francisco Solano, named for St. Francis of Solano, a 17th century missionary to the Peruvian Indians, but it's more commonly called Mission Sonoma.
If you're here because you want to visit the Sonoma Mission, 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 Sonoma Mission
- Mission Sonoma was the last and northernmost California mission
- Mission Sonoma was the only one founded after Mexico gained independence from... Spain
- Mission Sonoma was the only one founded without the Catholic church's prior approval
Sonoma Mission Timeline
- 1823 - Father Altimira founds Mission Sonoma
1827 - Indian uprising
1832 - Most successful year
1834 - Mission Sonoma secularized
1903 - Restoration begins
Where Is the Sonoma Mission Located?
Mission Sonoma (San Francisco Solano)
Sonoma State Historic Park website and current hours
Mission Sonoma is located at the corner of the historic plaza in the town of Sonoma. To get there from San Francisco, take US Hwy 101 north and exit onto CA Hwy 37 east toward Vallejo. Turn north on CA Hwy 121, continue following Hwy 121 (which is also called Carneros Highway or Arnold Drive). Turn right onto W. Watmaugh Rd., turn right again onto Broadway (CA Hwy 12) and right onto 3rd Street.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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History of Sonoma Mission: 1823 to Present Day
Father Jose Altimira came from Barcelona, Spain, to California in 1819, to help at Mission Dolores. The ambitious young man soon tired of the routine work at the established mission, and he devised a plan to move it north to warmer spot. Instead of asking the church, he went to the Mexican Governor Don Luis Arguello. Altimira proposed moving both the San Francisco and San Rafael missions to the new location, an action which Arguello thought would help keep the Russians out of northern California.
Altimira traveled north to scout a spot and founded Sonoma Mission on July 4, 1823. He returned to San Francisco and took soldiers and supplies back to the new location. However, other Fathers in the church opposed his plan, and when the Church finally approved the new mission, they insisted that the two remaining ones stay in place.
Sonoma Mission History in the 1820s-1830s
Father Altimira was determined to prove that he was right about the new mission, and it had a good start. He brought almost... 700 Indian neophytes from San Francisco, and the new vineyards, planted in the midst of what is now the Sonoma Valley wine area, flourished.
However, Altimira was a cruel man who flogged and imprisoned the natives in an attempt to "civilize" them, and they soon revolted. A large group attacked the mission. They stole and burned, and soon afterward Father Altimira fled to San Rafael. After working at San Buenaventura, he returned to Spain in 1828.
Father Buenaventura Fortuni, who had worked at Mission San Jose, replaced Altimira, and he rebuilt the mission and its buildings, and regained the Indian's trust. 1832 was the mission's most successful year, when Fortuni recorded 127 baptisms, 34 marriages and 70 deaths, and a total of 996 neophytes. The mission also had 6,000 sheep and goats, 900 horses, 13 mules, 50 pigs and 3,500 cattle. The fields produced wheat, barley, beans, peas and corn.
In 1833, the Zacatecan Franciscan priests from Mexico took over the Sonoma Mission, and Father Jose Gutierrez was placed in charge. Father Gutierrez also punished the Indians by beating them in an attempt to control them, an action that eventually helped General Vallejo gain control.
The mission buildings were barely finished when Sonoma Mission was secularized on November 3 1834. General Mariano Vallejo, Commandant of the San Francisco Presidio, took control. He was supposed to distribute the property to the Indians, but he took it for himself instead. Vallejo founded a town around the mission, which is now the town of Sonoma. The old chapel was used as a parish church until 1880, and was eventually sold to a man who built a saloon in front of it and used the chapel as a storehouse.
Sonoma Mission History in the 20th CenturyThe Historic Landmarks League bought the mission property in 1903, and they finished restoring the mission in 1926, when they turned it over to the State of California. After further restoration, the mission is part of the Sonoma Mission State Historic Park.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission Layout, Floor Plan, Buildings and Grounds
Mission founder Father Altimira built a wooden church that was dedicated in 1824. Other missions did not contribute much to the new church, but the Russians at Fort Ross donated some articles, including a Russian-made bell.
After Father Fortuni arrived in 1826, new buildings were built, made of adobe with tile roofs. The church was started in 1827 and finished in 1832. By 1833, the mission's thirty buildings included a 27-room convento, a wooden storehouse, workshops, living quarters for Indian girls, houses for Indian and military families, a gristmill, a jail and an infirmary.
After secularization, settlers in the new town of Sonoma started taking the roof tiles and building materials to build their homes and businesses, and the adobe structures began to crumble. By 1839, the mission was in ruins.
The Historic Landmarks League... bought the mission property in 1903, and they finished restoring the mission in 1926, when they turned it over to the State of California. Today, it is part of the Sonoma State Historic Park.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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Pictures of Sonoma Mission
The Sonoma Mission picture above shows its cattle brand. It was drawn from samples on display at Mission San Francisco Solano and Mission San Antonio.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission Exterior PictureContinue to 6 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission Interior PictureContinue to 7 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission Altar PictureContinue to 8 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission Pulpit PictureContinue to 9 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission Choir Loft PictureContinue to 10 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission Decorative Painting PictureContinue to 11 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission ModelContinue to 12 of 12 below.
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Sonoma Mission Bell Picture