The Cardinell-Vincent Postcards of the California Missions
24 classic, sepia toned images of the missions from the late 19th and early 20th century. This is one of the first full sets of mission photographs ever produced.
In the early decades of the 20th century, as travel to the missions increased and everyone became fascinated with the new medium of photography, there were dozens of companies offering postcards of the California Missions, initially in black and white. Many of the postcards were ultimately hand tinted in bright colors and the images were romanticized. Most were sold individually.
The Cardinell-Vincent Company of San Francisco developed starker, more authentic views of the old Spanish Missions, ferreting out simple, unadorned early images which it rendered in sepia tone. It offered these as a full set of 24 cards; all twenty-one missions plus the Royal Presidio Chapel in Monterey, the San Antonio de Pala Asistencia, and Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles, the original church of the pueblo (town) of Los Angeles. The 21 missions are listed by location, from south to north, with the other three historic buildings placed at the end.
San Diego de Alcalá
This image shows the mission before it was restored in 1931.
San Luis Rey de Francía at the end of the 19th Century
Restoration began after a Franciscan Novitiate was established on the site in 1893.
San Juan Capistrano
Restoration work by the Landmark Club in the 1890s saved this mission.
San Gabriel Arcángel
After the mission era, San Gabriel became a parish church and was never abandoned.
San Fernando Rey de España
This mission was restored in 1916 but had to be rebuilt again after an earthquake in 1971.
This image shows the church after a misguided “modernization” in 1893 was reversed and the church restored to its original appearance.
This mission has been continually occupied by Franciscans since it was founded in 1786.
Santa Inés Virgen y Mártir
This mission was never fully abandoned, and became the site of California’s first seminary.
La Purisima Concepcíon
Until the mission was restored (during the years 1934-1942), the mission was a captivating ruin, as depicted in this early 20th century view.
San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
This picture was taken shortly after a steeple and white siding were removed in 1934.
The entrance to the mission shown in the picture was changed after a large town square, Mission Plaza, was built in 1970. There are now wide steps leading from the plaza up to the church entrance.
San Miguel Arcángel
This mission has undergone a series of restorations, in 1901, 1928 and 2004-2009. It is one of the most authentic in the mission chain.
San Antonio de Padua
The view depicted here shows the mission after major restoration work done between 1903-1908.
Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
This mission was abandoned for over a century, but was restored in two stages beginning in 1954.
San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo
This view shows the church with a new pitched room, added in 1936, and since replaced by a curved roof, similar to the one it had in the mission era.
San Juan Bautista
As it looked in early decades of 20th century.
The present two-tiered campanario was added in 1976.
The mission church was destroyed in an 1857 earthquake and a modern church erected on the site.
The mission chapel of today was not built until 1931. This view shows how Santa Cruz looked in the mission-era, and is based on a 19th century painting.
Santa Clara de Asis
This image shows the 4th church, built in 1825, and is based on a 19th century painting.
The 1825 Santa Clara church was destroyed by fire in 1926, and a tasteful “modern interpretation” now stands on the site.
This view shows the mission ruins in the late 19th century, before the mission was restored.
San Francisco de Asís
Built in 1791, this chapel has survived earthquakes, fires and other calamities for over two centuries.
San Rafael Arcángel
At the time the Cardinell-Vincent postcards were issued, nothing remained of Mission San Rafael, so they used this 19th century painting. A reduced-scale replica chapel was built in 1919.
San Francisco Solano
This mission was restored in 1903, retaining the appearance of the church as it looked in 1840.
Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles
In the old-town section of California’s largest city.
The missionaries from San Gabriel, some nine miles distant, initially provided religious services
San Antonio de Pala
This asistencia or sub-mission of San Luis Rey was restored in 1916.
Royal Presidio Chapel of Monterey
Monterey was the headquarters of Alta California during most of the mission era, and the site of a presidio.