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Guide to the La Purisima Mission State Historic Park Collection
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Organizational History
  • Chronology
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: La Purisima Mission State Historic Park collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1787-2002 (bulk 1934-1975)
    Collection number: Consult repository
    Collector: La Purisima Mission State Historic Park (Lompoc, Calif.)
    Extent: 13.25 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Parks. La Purisima Mission State Historic Park (Lompoc, Calif.).
    Lompoc, CA 93436
    Abstract: The La Purisima Mission State Historic Park Collection contains correspondence, administrative materials, architectural records, committee documents, news clippings, reports, and financial materials documenting the restoration of the mission beginning in 1934. In addition, the collection includes records of the Citizen's Advisory Committee, a civic group that played a major role in the restoration process along with the personal papers of its key leaders Pearl Chase, M. R. Harrington, Edith Webb, and Glen Main. The collection also contains original mission records, in English and Spanish, including annual and biannual reports, correspondence, inventory lists, and books of confirmations, burials, marriages, and baptisms, ranging from 1787 to 1851. Materials in this collection range from 1787-2002 with the majority dedicated to the mission's existence as a public institution from its initial restoration by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933 to 1941, and continued restoration through 1971.
    Physical location: The collection is located at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, Lompoc, California.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    The collection is open for research by appointment only. Appointments may be made by calling (805) 733-3713.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact the California Department of Parks and Recreation, La Purisima Mission State Historic Park.

    Preferred Citation

    [item], California State Parks, La Purisima Mission State Historic Park Collection, La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, Lompoc, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The bulk of the materials in this collection were created in conjunction with activities and projects at La Purisima Mission and have remained onsite. Records were also acquired through donations by individuals involved in projects at La Purisima Mission.

    Organizational History

    Mision La Concepcion Purisima de Maria Santisima was founded by Franciscan Padre Fermin de Lasuen on December 8, 1787, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Originally built at Rio Santa Rosa, it was the eleventh Spanish mission established in California and one of three in the Santa Barbara region working to convert the Chumash Indians.
    The first soldiers and permanent missionaries arrived in 1788, when construction of mission buildings began. In the following years, land was cleared for agriculture and a church, workshops, living quarters, and a water system was built. The missionaries translated religious texts into the Chumash language to attract converts, and by 1798 the original church was too small to hold the mission's population of over 900 and a new church was begun. The new church was completed in 1802.
    The mission's population reached a high point in 1804 with over 1500 Indian converts on site. Between 1804 and 1807, smallpox, measles and other European diseases decimated the mission population, decreasing it by one third. The final blow fell in 1812, when a series of small earthquakes hit the area, climaxing in December with a major earthquake that seriously damaged the mission. Aftershocks and torrential winter rains turned the adobe ruins into mud.
    The original site was then abandoned and the mission rebuilt in a small canyon, La Canada de los Berros, some four miles further northeast. La Purisima was officially established there on April 23, 1813. Within ten years, the permanent buildings were constructed, situated in a line along the base of the hills, a departure from the standard quadrangle mission layout. All but three of these buildings are duplicated at the reconstructed La Purisima Mission State Historic Park.
    In the early 1800s, the Hidalgo rebellion led to a cessation of stipends and supplies from Spain. Since foreign trade was illegal, smuggling and a black market arose to deal with shortages of formerly imported goods. Indians were conscripted for military construction projects resulting in increased friction between the missions and military. In 1822, Mexico won its independence from Spain and the missions' political and economic position worsened. In 1824, the Indians at La Purisima and Santa Ines revolted following the flogging of an Indian by soldiers, and were quickly joined by those at San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, San Buenaventura and San Fernando. A month later, soldiers from the presidio at Monterey attacked and recaptured La Purisima, killing sixteen Indians. Another dozen and a half were executed or imprisoned afterward for their part in the revolt.
    In 1834, the missions were secularized by the government and control assumed by a series of appointed commissioners. In the following ten years most of the mission's assets were given away or sold and the mission at La Purisima fell into decay. In 1843, La Purisima and several other missions were restored to the church, but at that point the Indians had abandoned the mission and its remaining lands were idle. Two years later the remains of the mission were sold at public auction for $1110. Subsequently, the mission lands changed hands several times and what was left of the buildings fell into ruins. In 1874, the United States deeded the mission site back to the church, but most of the lands were now privately held and the church recovered little more than the ruins of the buildings.
    In 1903, the Los Berros site was acquired by the Union Oil Company. Realizing its historical importance, they deeded six parcels of the property to public ownership in 1933 and the Catholic Church donated the old church site to the county. The County of Santa Barbara and the State of California purchased additional land, and the total acreage, over 500 acres, was deeded to the Division of Beaches and Parks. The State Park Commission asked seven prominent Santa Barbara residents to form an advisory committee for the proposed park and in September 1935 they released a report outlining a proposed restoration policy and advocating the complete reconstruction of the site as opposed to simply excavating and stabilizing the remaining ruins. This report was accepted by the State of California and the National Park Service and used as a basis for the master plan for the mission site. At this time, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was assigning workers to aid in the development of state parks, and a consortium comprising the state, county, CCC, and National Park Service undertook the reconstruction of La Purisima Mission using materials and techniques very similar to those used by the padres. In 1941, the State Park Commission allocated $10,000 for the acquisition of additional land for the park site. The three main buildings and parts of three smaller buildings, as well as several units of the water system were completed when the mission was dedicated on December 7, 1941 as La Purisima State Historical Monument.
    Work continued on the mission restoration with additional building and other reconstruction continuing into the 1990s, until La Purisima became the most fully restored mission in its original setting. All the major buildings were rebuilt and furnished as they were in 1820, livestock of the period roam the grounds, the original water system was reconstructed, and over 900 surrounding acres were acquired to act as a buffer zone. La Purisima became a state park in 1963.

    Chronology

    1787 The original mission, Mision La Purisima Concepcion de Maria Santisima, was founded by Fr. Fermin de Lasuen on December 8.
    1788 Permanent missionaries and soldiers arrived. Fr. Fuster and Fr. Arroita started a settlement.
    1798 Additional construction began to provide space for over 500 inhabitants.
    1802 Original, poorly constructed buildings were replaced with new buildings of adobe walls with tile roofs.
    1804 Padre Mariano Payeras arrived at the mission, the mission population was 1,522.
    1804-1807 Smallpox epidemic killed 500 people.
    1810 Livestock count topped 20,000 head.
    1812 Mission destroyed by a series of earthquakes and flooding.
    1813 Fr. Mariano Payeras relocated the mission to its current location in La Canada de las Borros, "Valley of the Watercress," four miles northeast of the original site.
    1815-1819 Fr. Payeras became President of the missions and made La Purisima the headquarters for the mission system.
    1816 Drought and subsequent lack of food killed much of the sheep herd.
    1818 Fire destroyed most of the worker's homes.
    1819 Fr. Payeras appointed Commissary Prefect, the highest office governing California Franciscans.
    1823 Fr. Mariano Payeras died and was buried in the Mission church.
    1824 Chumash Indian uprising.
    1834 Mexico's secularization law ended church control over the missions. Missions fell into ruin after appropriation by government.
    1836 Last resident missionary left the Mission, the church was subsequently served from Santa Ines.
    1845 Only 200 Indians remained at the Mission. All the lands and buildings were sold in a public auction by the Mexican government to Juan Temple of Los Angeles for $1,100.
    1850 California became a state.
    1874 Catholic Church regained title to the mission due to a court case instituted by Bishop Alemany.
    1883 Most of the mission lands were sold to Eduardo de la Cuesta by Bishop Francis Mora. He used the property as a ranch.
    1903 The Union Oil Company bought the land and deeded it to the Landmark Club of California on the provision that the club repair the buildings. When the club was unable to raise the money, the title reverted back to Union Oil.
    1933 Catholic Church and the Union Oil Company donated the property to the public.
    1934 Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established.
    1935 Citizen's Advisory Committee was formed.
    1937 Mission and gardens restoration began.
    1941 Restoration was completed and the mission was dedicated as a State Historical Monument, on December 7. World War II began for the United States.
    1949 Development of mission museum began.
    1961 Development of mission museum was completed.
    1963 Became La Purisima Mission State Historic Park.
    1973 Prelado de Los Tesoros de La Purisima was founded as a non-profit, volunteer organization that assists La Purisima Mission State Historic Park staff.

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    The La Purisima Mission State Historic Park Collection contains correspondence, administrative materials, architectural records, committee documents, news clippings, reports, and financial materials documenting the restoration of the mission beginning in 1934. In addition, the collection includes records of the Citizen's Advisory Committee, a civic group that played a major role in the restoration process along with the personal papers of its key leaders: Pearl Chase, M. R. Harrington, Edith Webb, and Glen Main. The collection also contains original mission records, in English and Spanish, including annual and biannual reports, correspondence, inventory lists, and books of confirmations, burials, marriages, and baptisms, ranging from 1787 to 1851. Materials in this collection range from 1787-2002 with the majority dedicated to the mission's existence as a public institution from its initial restoration by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933 to 1941, and continued restoration efforts through 1971.
    The majority of this collection relates to the restoration of the mission. Restoration records are located in Series 1. Mission Restoration Records; Series 2. Garden Restoration; Series 3. Citizen's Advisory Committee; Series 4. Personal Papers; Series 5. Reports and Studies; and Series 6. Subject Files.
    Documents relating to the Citizen's Advisory Committee are located in Series 3. Citizen's Advisory Committee and in Series 4. Personal Papers, where the personal papers of leading members of the Citizen's Advisory Committee, Pearl Chase, M. R. Harrington, and Edith Webb may be found. The personal papers in this collection encompass only the individuals' involvement with the La Purisima Mission and nothing about other aspects of their lives.
    This collection contains a small number of original mission records in Series 7. Mission Records. The records are largely transcripts, both manuscripts and typescripts, of original documents. Biennial reports and books of burials, marriages, and confirmations are in both Spanish and English.
    The largest series in the collection, Series 6. Subject Files, contains information on the mission as a state park. Civilian Conservation Corps records are also located in this series.
    Most of the materials in the collection are textual. Other formats scattered throughout the collection include microfilm, photographs, negatives, lantern slides, 35mm slides, and aperture cards.
    In processing this collection, original file titles were largely retained. However, in a few instances, documents were moved to more appropriate folders or were relocated with the intent of consolidating like information.
    The collection is organized into seven series:
    • Series 1. Mission Restoration Records, 1924-1998 and undated. 1.75 cubic ft.
    • Series 2. Garden Restoration Records, 1931-2002 and undated. 1.25 cubic ft.
    • Series 3. Citizen's Advisory Committee, 1934-2002 and undated. 1.75 cubic ft.
    • Series 4. Personal Papers, 1834-1998 and undated. 1.75 cubic ft.
    • Series 5. Reports and Studies, 1936-2000 and undated. .5 cubic ft.
    • Series 6. Subject Files, 1877-2002 and undated. 5 cubic ft.
    • Series 7. Mission Records, 1787-1938 and undated . 1.25 cubic ft.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection.

    Subjects

    Chase, Pearl--Archives.
    Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)--California--Archival resources.
    Harrington, M. R. (Mark Raymond), 1882-1971--Archives.
    La Purisima Mission State Historic Park (Lompoc, Calif.)--Archival resources.
    Main, Glen--Archives.
    Mission La Purisima Concepcion (Calif.)--Archival resources.
    Spanish mission buildings--Conservation and restoration--California--Lompoc Region--Archival resources.
    Webb, Edith Buckland, 1877---Archives.