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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 4 (January 1904)

James, George Wharton
The Franciscan mission builders of California,   pp. 321-335 PDF (4.7 MB)


Page 325


FRANCISCAN MISSION BUILDINGS
Spanish priest of great eloquence, intense
fervor, missionary zeal and general capa-
bility.
  The expedition for the christianizing and
colonizing of California set out by both land
and sea in various divisions. Three vessels
sailed respectively on January 9, February
15, and June 16, 1769, only two of which
reached their destination; the third being
lost and never again heard from. Two land
expeditions started, in one of which was
Serra, who, although suffering terribly
from an ulcerated leg, persisted in walking
all the way.
  On July 1, 1769, Serra reached San
Diego, and on the 16th of the same month
founded the mission of that name. Then,
in as rapid succession as possible, the other
missions were   established, the  Indians
brought under control, and the active work
of christianizing them was begun.
   The picture is a fascinating one. A
handful of priests,hampered by long gowns,
in a far away, strange land, surrounded by
a vast population of aborigines neither as
wild and ferocious, nor as dull and stupid as
various writers have described them, yet
brave, courageous, liberty-loving and self-
willed enough to render their subjugation a
difficult matter. With a courage that was
sublime in its very boldness, and which, bet-
ter than ten thousand verbal eulogies, shows
the self-centered confidence and mental
poise of the men, this handful of priests
grappled with their task, brought the vast
horde of untamed Indians under subjection,
trained them to systematic work, and, in a
few short years, so thoroughly accomplished
what they had determined, that the Mission
building was erected by these former say-
ages, who were made useful workers in a
large diversity of fields.
  For the buildings themselves'-let the pic-
tures, in the main, make their own explana-
tion. It will be well, however, to call atten-
tion to some distinctive features. As a
rule, the Missions were built in the form of
a hollow square: the Church representing
the facade, with the priests' quarters and
the houses for the Indians forming the
wings. These quarters were generally col-
onnaded or cloistered, with a series of semi-
circular arches, and roofed with red tiles
(See Figure I). In the interior was the
patio or court, which often contained a
fountain and a garden. Upon this patio
opened all the apartments: those of the
fathers and of the major-domo, and the
guest-rooms, as well as the workshops,
school-rooms and storehouses.
  The Indians' quarters were generally the
most secluded parts of the premises. The
young girls were separated rigidly from
the boys and youths; the first named being
under the guardianship of staid and trust-
worthy Indian women. The young charges
were taught to weave, spin, sew, embroider,
make bread, cook, and to engage generally
in domestic tasks, and were not allowed to
leave the "convent" until they married.
  From Figure II, showing the faqade of
the Santa Barbara Mission, a few details
may be noted. Here the engaged columns
form a striking feature, there being six of
them, three on either side of the main en-
trance. The capital here used is the Ionic
volute. The entablature is somewhat Gre-
cian, the decoration being a variant of the
Greek fret. The pediment is simple, with
heavy dentals under the cornice. A niche
containing a statue occupies the center.
                                      395


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