Monday, November 24, 2008

The First Mission

(Photo: The Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo of Monterey in 1934, photographed by Roger Sturtevant as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey, considered in the public domain).

The graceful Carmel Mission is certainly the better known Spanish mission on the Monterey Peninsula, but it wasn't the first. Father Junipero Serra, along with the priests and soldiers he brought with him, and the California natives they enlisted, built a mission in Monterey shortly after landing on June 3, 1770. The priests moved the mission to the Carmel River three miles away by the end of 1771. Historians say there were two reasons for the move: The riverside was more fertile for crops, and the priests were having trouble separating the Spanish soldiers from the Indian women. The original buildings in Monterey were destroyed in 1789, when misguided canons set them ablaze. The replacement church was finished in 1794 – the Royal Presidio Chapel, a sandstone and adobe structure that stands today as the San Carlos Cathedral.

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