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San Francisco Solano
Mission San Francisco Solano
Mar 5, 2009, 17:26 PST
Father Jose Altimira, a Franciscan priest of the Alta California Mission Chain, founded the Mission San Francisco Solano on July 4th, 1823. It was the 21st of California's 21 missions and was the last mission established in the Alta California Chain.
Not only was Mission San Francisco Solano the final mission established in the Alta California Chain, it was also the northernmost. Father Jose Altimira, known for his unruliness, desired to move away from his post at Mission Delores. Without permission from the church he traveled northward where he established the Mission San Francisco Solano.
This mission was the only mission not condoned by the church. It also was the only mission established after Mexico won its independence. Rather than proposing his new mission to the church, Father Altimira asked the governor for permission. He wanted to combine Missions San Francisco de Asis, San Rafael Arcangel, and San Francisco Solano into one mission in his newly chosen location. The governor gave his permission, but the church would only sanction the mission if Father Altimira left the other missions alone. With this compromise, Father Altimira began construction on his new mission in 1823.
|Photocopy of painting (from De Young Museum, San Francisco, California, Oriana Day, artist, c. 1861-1885) EXTERIOR VIEW OF MISSION BEFORE 1835|
While the mission did not receive much help from the other missions, it did receive a lot of support from the nearby Russian outpost, Fort Ross. Many Indians flocked to the mission in search of a warmer climate and an easier lifestyle. What they found instead was an oppressive leader. The Indians grew tired of being oppressed by Father Altimira and in 1828 attacked the father and set fire to the mission. Father Altimira fled back to Spain and within two years the mission was running more successfully than it ever had before.
Like most California missions, the Mission San Francisco Solano 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. Although it had a rough economic beginning, the mission gained new economic success after the removal of Father Alitmira. By 1830, almost 1,000 Indians lived and worked at the mission.
The chapel built at San Francisco Solano still stands today. It is 105 feet long and 22 feet wide. Made of thick adobe walls, the chapel had a tile roof and was surrounded by 27 other rooms.
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