California Missions


La Purisima Mission State Historic Park Founding Day

2295 Purisima Road Lompoc, CA 93436.

Getting there: Exit Interstate Highway 101 north of Santa Barbara and south of Santa Maria near Solvang / Buellton at Highway 246. Proceed west on Highway 246 for approximately 18 miles. The mission is on the right hand side of the road. It is open daily except the major holidays.

Many simply call it the La Purisima Mission. It is located on the road heading into Lompoc from Interstate 101. Just across the road approx. 30 miles is the Mission Santa Ines in Solvang. Both are well worth visiting, though La Purisima is the favorite of historians who say that is retains the flavor of the mission era with its architecture and exhibits.

Teachers love it and it is one of the top visited California missions for student trips. Maintaining the original design as the 11th mission, which was built in 1787, the current structure and grounds are a model of the original building, and was rebuilt by original methods. La Purisima Mission or Mission La Purisima Concepcion is part of the California State Parks system and is also located on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

Set in a valley among oak-studded hills, farms not far from Vandenberg Base, the grounds include some animals such as goats, huge fields with yellow wildflowers in the spring, the Spanish called this area the plain of Rio Santa Rosa, but the native Chumash knew it as Algsacpi. Painted a vibrant color, possibly described as deep salmon, today's mission is based on photos and drawings from the original mission which was destroyed through earthquakes and the hands of time.

Like other missions along the chain of 21 in Alta California, the local Indians (mostly Chumash) were brought into the mission and were called neophytes. They were required to live and work on the mission lands, though in La Purisima, some were sent out to work for the nearby ranchos where the mission was paid for their labor to support mission expenses.

Asked why the Chumash were willing to agree to join the mission lifestyle, some explain that they were fascinated with the clothing and items the Spaniards introduced to the area--things never seen before. Unfortunately, the plagues and disease the Spanish brought to the new country nearly wiped out the local native population. Today, however, survivors and ancestors of the Chumash nation live in the area, and there's even a Chumash Casino nearby. It is a four diamond hotel property with entertainment and gambling that attracts tourists and busloads of groups.

The Mission itself has an active volunteer organization that provides tours and hosts special events each year. Here are some of the events:

Mission Life Days - the mission comes alive with demonstrations of the crafts and industries that enabled the missions to be successful communities.

Village Days - show traditional skills and crafts brought to La Purisima Mission by the Chumash Indians, such as grinding acorns, making a basket, building a tule house, making stone and shell beads, shaping a tule doll, arrow making, and playing Chumash games!

Purisima's People Day - costumed staff and docents recreate 1822 as they portray people who may have lived at the mission.

El Pastor - costumed docents and staff are available for conversations and craft demonstrations.

Mountain Men - Members of the American Mountain Men set up camp at La Purisima Mission twice a year, proudly displaying their equipment and skills. The men are eager to relate how resourceful mountain men had to be in the 1800's in order to survive in the wilderness. Others are busy making new clothing, repairing their equipment, or preparing a deerskin for tanning.

Candlelight Tours -take guests through the pages of history, as the flicker of candlelight illuminates the evening activities of 1820's mission residents. As a guest of the padre, you will savor the cuisine of the 19th century. Tickets sell out quickly

Founding Day - The park and Prelado de los Tesoros celebrate the founding of La Purisima Mission by providing an evening of candlelight and music. 400 luminarias lead guests to the church for a musical performance by a local group. After the performance, guests are invited to La Sala to enjoy fellowship and refreshments.

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