Mission Santa Inés

Mission Santa Inés

Mission Santa Inés in 2005

Location of Mission Santa Inés in California

Location 1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, California 93464
Coordinates 34°35′40″N 120°08′13″W / 34.59444°N 120.13694°W / 34.59444; -120.13694Coordinates: 34°35′40″N 120°08′13″W / 34.59444°N 120.13694°W / 34.59444; -120.13694
Name as founded La Misión de Nuestra Santa Inés, Virgen y Mártir [1]
English translation The Mission of Saint Agnes of Rome, Virgin and Martyr
Patron Saint Agnes of Rome [2]
Nickname(s) "Hidden Gem of the Missions" [3]
Founding date September 17, 1804 [4]
Founding priest(s) Father Presidente Pedro Estévan Tápis [5]
Founding Order Nineteenth [2]
Military district Second [6]
Native tribe(s)
Spanish name(s)
Native place name(s) 'Alahulapu [7]
Baptisms 1,348 [8]
Marriages 400 [8]
Burials 1,227 [8]
Secularized 1836 [2]
Returned to the Church 1862 [2]
Governing body Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Current use Parish Church / Museum
Reference no. 99000630[9]
Designated 1999[9]
Reference no.
  1. 305

Mission Santa Inés (sometimes spelled Santa Ynez) is a Spanish mission in the present-day city of Solvang, California, and named after St. Agnes of Rome. Founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estévan Tapís of the Franciscan order, the mission site was chosen as a midway point between Mission Santa Barbara and Mission La Purísima Concepción, and was designed to relieve overcrowding at those two missions and to serve the Indians living east of the Coast Range.

The mission was home to the first learning institution in Alta California[5] and today serves as a museum as well as a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


Mission Santa Inés in about 1912. The mission's original three-bell campanario collapsed in a storm in 1911 and was subsequently replaced by this four-bell version, which also had openings on the side. This tower was replaced in 1948 to restore the original three-niched appearance. The original bell structure (erected in 1817) collapsed in 1911 and was reconstructed out of reinforced concrete twice, in 1911 and again in 1948 to restore its original appearance. The campanile has been compared by architectural historian Rexford Newcomb to the one that originally abutted the façade of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel
Santa Ines marker

Most of the original church was destroyed on December 21, 1812 in an earthquake centered near Santa Barbara that damaged or destroyed most of California's missions. The quake also severely damaged other mission buildings, but the complex was not abandoned. A new church, constructed with 5-to-6-foot-thick (1.5 to 1.8 m) walls and great pine beams brought from nearby Figueroa Mountain, was dedicated on July 4, 1817.

A water-powered grist mill was built in 1819, about half a mile from the church. In 1821, a fulling mill was added, designed by newly arrived American immigrant Joseph John Chapman.[10]

On February 21, 1824 a soldier beat a young Chumash Indian and sparked the Chumash Revolt of 1824. Some of the Indians went to get the Indians from Missions Santa Barbara and La Purísima to help in the fight. When the fighting was over, the Indians themselves put out the fire that had started at the mission. Many of the Indians left to join other tribes in the mountains; only a few Indians remained at the mission.

In 1833 the missions in California were secularized, and most of their land given in land grants to settlers.

In 1843, California's Mexican governor Micheltorena granted 34,499 acres (139.61 km2) of Santa Ynez Valley land, called Rancho Cañada de los Pinos, to the College of Our Lady of Refuge, the first seminary in California. Established at the mission by Francisco García Diego y Moreno, first Bishop of California, the college was abandoned in 1881. By then the mission buildings were disintegrating.

Highwayman Jack Powers briefly took over Mission Santa Inés and the adjacent Rancho San Marcos in 1853, intending to rustle the cattle belonging to rancher Nicolas A. Den. Powers was defeated in a bloodless armed confrontation. He was not ousted from the Santa Barbara area until 1855.

The Danish town of Solvang was built up around the mission proper in the early 1900s. It was through the efforts of Father Alexander Buckler in 1904 that reconstruction of the mission was undertaken, though major restoration was not possible until 1947 when the Hearst Foundation donated money to pay for the project. The restoration continues to this day, and the Capuchin Franciscan Fathers take excellent care of Mission Santa Inés.

See also


  1. Leffingwell, p. 71
  2. 1 2 3 4 Krell, p. 286
  3. Ruscin, p. 163
  4. Yenne, p. 164
  5. 1 2 Ruscin, p. 196
  6. Forbes, p. 202
  7. Ruscin, p. 195
  8. 1 2 3 Krell, p. 315: as of December 31, 1832; information adapted from Engelhardt's Missions and Missionaries of California.
  9. 1 2 NHL Admission
  10. Santa Inés Mission Mills | A Brief History


  • Forbes, Alexander (1839). California: A History of Upper and Lower California. Smith, Elder and Co., Cornhill, London. 
  • Krell, Dorothy (ed.) (1979). The California Missions: A Pictorial History. Sunset Publishing Corporation, Menlo Park, CA. ISBN 0-376-05172-8. 
  • Jones, Terry L. and Kathryn A. Klar (eds.) (2007). California Prehistory: Colonization, Culture, and Complexity. Altimira Press, Landham, MD. ISBN 0-7591-0872-2. 
  • Leffingwell, Randy (2005). California Missions and Presidios: The History & Beauty of the Spanish Missions. Voyageur Press, Inc., Stillwater, MN. ISBN 0-89658-492-5. 
  • Paddison, Joshua (ed.) (1999). A World Transformed: Firsthand Accounts of California Before the Gold Rush. Heyday Books, Berkeley, CA. ISBN 1-890771-13-9. 
  • Ruscin, Terry (1999). Mission Memoirs. Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA. ISBN 0-932653-30-8. 
  • Yenne, Bill (2004). The Missions of California. Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, CA. ISBN 1-59223-319-8. 
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