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Author: Aldo Moore
At the Beginning
Father Fermin Lasuen founded mission San Luis Rey de Francia on June 13, 1798. It was the 18th mission in the 21 mission chain in Alta California. It got its name after Saint Luis IX, King of France in the 1200's. Father Anthony Peyri was put in charge of the mission. He designed and supervised the building of the whole mission. The church is 180 feet long, 28 feet wide and 30 feet high. It was among the largest missions covering over 6 acres of land. It was known by the name "King of the Missions". The buildings were placed around, taking 500 by 500 foot quadrangle each. The mission was frequently visited. One of the visitors described the mission looking like a palace.
California represents “high – water mark” of Spanish expansion in North America, because it’s last and northernmost colony on the continent. Spain had the need to control ever – expanding holdings in the New World and needed literate people that couldn’t come from home land. The missions were the only solution, so they were established with the cooperation between the government and church. They worked on the literacy of people through converting natives to Christianity. The goal was to make citizens who would pay taxes and would be productive members of the society.
The architecture style used in Spanish missions had functional and esthetic purpose. Spanish Fathers came to California, establishing missions along the coastline with a purpose of converting natives. Native Californians were skillful people and the priests had the knowledge about the old esthetic design, so the cooperation between them produced the architecture of California that we can see even today. Raw materials that were used for their work were coming from natural products of the California coast. The style that was used then became popular and spread across US, so the people tried to mimic the style, using it in Los Angeles, St. Louis and Missouri. Even though they had materials and people who would do the work, there wasn’t enough of either, so they had to deal with a lot of difficulties. They used simple building materials and easy methods of construction so they can get the work done. Workforce and materials were gained from the surrounding lands.
Materials and locations
Materials they used could be found in their surroundings, along the California coast: adobe, timber, stone, brick and tile, which are all the staples of the style today. They used a way originated in Spain and Mexico to produce mud bricks from earth and water, chaff, straw and manure, making even brick molds to produce more at once. The adobe from California was easy to make and handle and importantly light weighted, so the carrying was easy. Because so many people worked on the producing bricks, they started writing names and dates that can be seen even today, leaving a mark of that time. This way of building was very useful in this region of the US.
If you need to find out more about California mission visit Old Mission Museum at Oceanside, CA or go explore this historic landmark online at
Contact :
Contact Person: Maureen Sullivan
Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Address: 4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA 92057-6402
Tel/Fax: (760) 757-3651

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