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Mission San Francisco de Asís

The mission called Dolores was founded October 9, 1776. The padres chose a site for Mission San Francisco de Asís beside a little inlet called Laguna Dolores. The nearby pueblo was named Yerba Buena. As time went by the town took the name of Saint Francis, while the mission more popularly became known as Dolores. Even though located beside one of the finest harbors in all the world, Mission Dolores was handicapped from the outset by lack of suitable space for agriculture, competition for that space from the citizens of the Spanish pueblo, and the damp and foggy climate. Initially the Indians were greatly attracted to the mission, but ample food and protection from enemies had to be measured against fatal epidemics of measles, the worldly attractions of the pueblo, and the free life of "unenlightened" brothers across the bay. Desertions threatened the mission's existence.
Nothing was ever the same after the discovery of gold in California. The population of the sleepy pueblo rose from a mere 900 to over 20,000 in only a year. Mexican land reforms had taken all the mission possessions, so that just a few of the buildings were left to return to the Church. soon there were more Irish than Spanish grave markers in the old cemetery.
One of the greatest recorded earthquakes of all time shook San Francisco in 1906, but the thick walls of the old mission church stood firm. Today it remains the oldest building in fabulous San Francisco, that romantic city beside the famous Golden Gate. Inside, the church is little different than when it ministered to dusky Indian neophytes, an island of peace and calm in the midst of the busy city. The Mission is now called Dolores.
Time seems to stand still at old Mission Dolores. The oldest building in fabulous San Francisco, the mission church came through the great earthquake and fire of 1906 unscathed. Its interior differs little from its original appearance. Decorated redwood ceiling beams remain as created by Indian workmen. Wooden columns remain painted to resemble Italian marble which they are not. Outside the church, only the old cemetery is as in yesteryear. Modern Mission Dolores Basilica and the teeming city by the Golden Gate crowd around the venerable church, which is the only remaining mission building.

 


 

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