The Sixth of the California Missions
October 9, 1776
Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order
Founding Father President:
Fr. Junípero Serra
Frs. Pedro Cambón and Francisco Palóu
Near San Francisco Bay which the Spanish had just begun to explore. (Juan Manuel de Ayala sailed into the Bay in the San Carlos on August 5, 1775). The mission is now located about a half mile from the original site, at present day 16th and Dolores Streets.
Traditional quadrangle, completed in 1798.
Dolores Lake and a stream that ran by the mission, which the Spanish named Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores.
In 1783, after more than a decade in service, the mission had only 215 neophytes. During its peak years, from 1801 - 1821 the population ranged between 1000-1200 declining sharply in the later years to 204 in 1832. The mission was plagued by disease and many of the Indians deserted.
San Francisco de Asis built its livestock herd from 826 head to over 20,000 animals in the peak years 1803 - 1814. In 1832, just before secularization in 1834, the herd population was 9,518.
None of the Bay area missions boasted significant agriculture production except Missions Santa Clara and San Jose (which ranked 2nd in the entire chain). Over the years 1782-1832 Mission Dolores harvested 87,000 bushels of grain and produce, placing the mission in the lower third of mission producers. Wheat, barley, corn, beans and peas were the primary crops.
The small chapel (114' long by 22' wide) was dedicated on August 2, 1791. It has survived earthquakes, fires and other calamities. It was restored in 1917 and received a complete restoration and retrofit in 1990 and 1994. The ceiling has a distinctive chevron design painted with natural pigments.
The three original bells hang on rawhide thongs above the entranceway, in a narrow niche. They are dedicated to San Francisco, San Jose and San Martín. The bells are still in use.
The richly gilded baroque altar and reredos in the sanctuary of the church are stunning. The art is among the most sophisticated in the mission chain.
The cemetery (much reduced from its original size) is a well landscaped oasis in the middle of a busy city. The mass grave of the Mission Indians buried here is called the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine.
The hospital asistencia of San Rafael, subsequently made a full mission, was established 15 miles north of Mission Dolores in 1817. Hundreds of neophytes transferred there to regain their health.
Year Returned to Catholic Church:
The old mission chapel is part of the Basilica Parish of Mission Dolores. The basilica, which towers over the original mission, was dedicated in 1918. Basilica status was granted in 1952.
Indians Joining This Mission:
The Native Americans in the area were Ohlone. Indians from other groups were recruited or taken into the mission, including members of the Bay Miwok, Coast Miwok and Patwin tribes. The mission was founded at the village of Chutchui.
The mission church is the oldest intact building in San Francisco.
Mission Dolores survived the great fire and earthquake of 1906.
In the movie Vertigo Jimmy Stewart, as detective, Scottie Ferguson, followed Kim Novak (the central character, Madeleine Elster) through Mission Dolores and into the cemetery.
Some 36,000 adobe bricks were employed in the construction of the Dolores church.
First Mass was June 29, 1776
Official Founding Date October 9, 1776