San Francisco Solano

San Francisco Solano Key Facts

San Francisco Solano, the last California mission, was founded on July 4, 1823. The 1840 church was restored  in 1913. The restored mission complex includes the church, the padre’s quarters (now a museum), and a large quadrangle. There is a commemorative wall with the names of the Indian neophytes, located on the west side of the mission. 

General Information

San Francisco Solano

Founded:
July 4, 1823
Also Called:
Sonoma Mission
Current Status:
What remained of the mission was sold to a private party in 1881. Between 1911-13 the mission was rebuilt with the support of the Historic Landmark League, which acquired the property in 1903. The last major restoration was in 1943-44. The mission complex includes the restored 1840 church, the padres' quarters (now a museum), the mission dining room, and a large quadrangle. The Mexican-era Soldier's Barracks are just across from the mission. The restores mission is now part of Sonoma State Historic Park.
Summary:
San Francisco Solano, the last California mission, was founded on July 4, 1823. The 1840 church was restored  in 1913. The restored mission complex includes the church, the padre’s quarters (now a museum), and a large quadrangle. There is a commemorative wall with the names of the Indian neophytes, located on the west side of the mission. 

Key Facts About This Mission

Named For

Saint Francis Solano, a Spanish Franciscan who served for 20 years as a missionary in Peru and Paraguay. 

Founding Missionaries

Fr. José Altimira

Indians Joining Mission

Miwok man with bowNeophytes were primarily members of the Coast Miwok, Pomo, Suisunes, Wappo and Patwin tribes. The mission was established at the site of the village of Huchi. 

Mission Site

In the center of Sonoma, 40 miles north of San Francisco.

Layout

In the mission era, San Francisco Solano was laid out in a traditional quadrangle, close to where the town of Sonoma developed. 

Water Source

There was ample water from a spring a quarter of a mile northeast of the mission complex.

Population

The highest mission population was 996, in 1832.

Livestock

San Fransisco Solano Cattle Brand  San Francisco Solano only operated for eleven years before it was secularized. It did have a meaningful herd of 3,500 cattle and 900 horses. The mission's total of 5,063 animals (in 1832) was the smallest in the mission chain. 

Agricultural Output

Mission Sonoma did not have time to fully develop its agriculture. Output between mission founding and 1832 was only about 14,000 bushels of grain and produce. An official U.S. Land Survey shows a large mission vineyard. 

Mission Church

The restored church measures 105 feet long and is 22 feet wide. 

The interior is quite authentic looking. It is part of a historic state park and is not a dedicated Catholic church. 

Mission Bells

San Fransisco Solano BellA wooden frame outside the mission entrance holds one of the original bells, which was cast in 1829. 

Mission Art

The wing that was the padre’s quarters is now a museum. In what was the dining room, there is a display of the full set of mission paintings done by Chris Jorgenen, painted between 1903-1905. 

Significant Events

Sonoma Tower General Mariano Vallejo, who became Director of Colonization of the Northern Frontier in 1835, had control of Sonoma until the American takeover. In the Mexican Era Sonoma was a major town and military center. 

Bear Flag Raising The Bear Flag Revolt of June 14, 1846, declaring California a Republic, was staged directly across from the mission. 

Secularized

1834

Interesting Facts

The mission was established by an overly eager padre acting without church approval. 

San Francisco Solano is the only mission established during Mexican rule of Alta California.

General Vallejo He "rescued" all the plantings from the mission vineyard after secularization and replanted the vines at his ranch.

The names of the Indian neophytes of the Sonoma Mission are displayed on a commemorative wall on the west side of the mission church. 

End of mission trail sign San Francisco Solano marks the end of the Mission Trail 

Additional Information
  • Weber, F.J. Last of the Missions: A Documentary History of San Francisco Solano.
  • Draper, A.S. (2000). Mission San Francisco Solano. (PowerKids Press book, part of their Missions of California Series)
  • Smilie, R.S. (1975). Sonoma Mission, San Francisco Solano de Sonoma: the Founding, Ruin and Restoration of California's 21st Mission.

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