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The 21 California Missions

What is the History of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa?

The 5th California Mission

Father Serra, first Father-Presidente of the Alta California Mission Chain, founded the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa on September 1st, 1772. It was the fifth of California’s 21 missions, and it is located in present day San Luis Obispo.

Mission-San-Luis-Obispo, photo courtesy of Bryce Edwards

The Founding Of Mission San Luis Obispo

Father Serra named the mission for Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse, France. Chumash Indians, the people native to San Luis Obispo, built the original church from tree branches and poles. Although the buildings were temporary, they housed soldier barracks, Indian homes, and an infirmary. Eventually, the church was made permanent with architecture reminiscent of New Englans meeting houses.

Mission San Luis Obispo’s Sale to Mexico

The San Luis Obispo mission was original established, as all California missions were, to convert local Indians into Westernized Christians. When the missions were less successful that initially anticipated, the Church severed their funding. Left destitute, the mission was sold to the Mexican government and served as a courthouse, jail, etc.

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How Did Mission San Luis Obispo Support Itself

Like most California missions, the Mission Santa Luis Obispo de Tolosa supported itself and the Native inhabitants of the area by growing crops of wheat and corn. They also raised herds of horses and cattle, and cultivated grapes in a vineyard. Despite a desperate lack of crops and food in general, the mission did have a plentiful supply of bear meat. Indians hunted this meat with guns borrowed from the Spanish soldiers, and they were so successful that the mission actually supplied the other missions in the Alta California chain with bear.

Why Do California Missions Have Red Tile Roofs

In 1776, a group of angry Native Americans attacked the mission. They shot flaming arrows into the thatched roof, effectually burning the mission building to the ground. (This was actually the third time that part of the mission had burned down.) The missionaries determined that they needed a roof more resistant to Indian attack, and the padres developed the red tiled roof. This roofing material became a trademark of the Alta California mission chain.

The Location of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

When the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was first established, it sat one mile from a village so tiny it did not violate the rule requiring all missions to be at least seven miles from the nearest town. That town has since then grown to be the thriving city of San Luis Obispo, California.

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APA style
What is the History of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa?. (2012, January 28). In ClassBrain Missions. Retrieved 14:28, October 25, 2014, from http://www.classbrainmissions.com/history-mission-san-luis-obispo-de-tolosa/
MLA style
classbrain, “What is the History of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa?.” ClassBrain Missions. 28 January 2012, 12:37 UTC. ClassBrain, Inc. 25 Oct 2014 <http://www.classbrainmissions.com/history-mission-san-luis-obispo-de-tolosa/>.
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The Chicago Manual of Style
classbrain, “What is the History of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa?.” ClassBrain Missions, http://www.classbrainmissions.com/history-mission-san-luis-obispo-de-tolosa/ [accessed October 25, 2014].
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What is the History of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa?, http://www.classbrainmissions.com/history-mission-san-luis-obispo-de-tolosa/ (last visited Oct. 25, 2014).
AMA style
classbrain, What is the History of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa?. ClassBrain Missions. January 28, 2012, 12:37 UTC. Available at: http://www.classbrainmissions.com/history-mission-san-luis-obispo-de-tolosa/. Accessed October 25, 2014.

6 Comments

  1. when was the mission rebuilt?

    • The Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was rebuilt immediately after each of the fires, the last of which took place in 1776.

    • The Mission’s roofs were burned shortly after it was built in the 1770s, which required that it be rebuilt with tiles rooftops in the late 1770s. Renovations continued to take place until 1819, when the quadrangle was completed and the bells were installed. The mission fell into ruins during the 1840s through the 1860s. Restoration began again in the 1870s, but work was sporadic. In 1933, serious restoration began that helped restore the Mission to the state it is in today.

  2. what was the closing of the mission?

    • Between 1845 and 1872 the Mission fell into disrepair and closed down, until restoration started during the 100th anniversary.

  3. why is this mission important to california?

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