Exterior view looking west toward the mission complex from old Highway 101 [the former Camino Real (Royal Highway)], 2003.
National Historic Landmark image.
Mission San Miguel Arcángel
San Miguel, California
Mission San Miguel Arcángel (San Luis Obispo County, California) is located in its original rural setting on the fringes of the City of San Miguel. Mission San Miguel is one of twenty-one mission churches built along the Camino Real, the royal road which traversed the state from San Francisco to San Diego.
The mission was built by the Franciscans both to convert the indigenous population to Christianity
and to exploit the labor of these new converts.
Father Fermín Francisco de Lasuen founded the sixteenth mission on the Camino Real on July 25, 1797. At that time, a temporary church stood on the site. This church burned down nine years later in 1806. Plans for a new adobe church were drawn up soon after the fire and the church's stone foundation was laid in 1816. Its construction was completed in 1818.
The mission complex includes a church and convento, a courtyard, cemetery, and neophyte village. Mission San Miguel is
significant as an extant example of Spanish colonial architecture. It also possesses the best preserved and only example of unrestored colonial art to survive in any of the California missions.
The mural paintings at San Miguel are generally organized around an architectural design scheme that incorporates Greek and Classical, as well as Moorish and Byzantine influences.
The interior of the church has not undergone any alterations since its murals were painted in 1821 by Estevan Munras with the assistance of the local indigenous population.
Although the mission complex was only under the stewardship of the Franciscans until 1834, the mission buildings were returned to the Catholic Church in 1859.
On December 22, 2003, the church sustained damage from the San Simeon earthquake. As a result, the church and mission quadrangle have been indefinitely closed to the public until properly stabilized and restored. Funding sources are currently being sought for the restoration of the church.
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