There is not much left of the original mission in Lompoc; but, what is there should be seen if you want to do a complete tour of the missions.
|The original mission location is about five miles from the current mission, at the south end of Lompoc. From the current mission go straight across Purisima Road onto Mission Gate Road, heading south. At Highway 246 turn right and head toward Lompoc. Proceed into town to F Street and turn left (south) about five blocks to a cul-de-sac. Park and you are in the middle of what used to be the old mission quadrangle.|
From the mission site you can see much of Lompoc and, in the distance, where the current mission stands.
|As seen by the green areas in the map above, trails lead off in two directions from F Street. Off the circle, the trail leads to the middle of the quadrangle and the signs there are general in nature. There are no special ruins to see in this area.|
From the descriptive plaque: “The Mission residents lived in and around an enclosed, four-sided building built of adobe bricks and roofed with tiles. The central quadrangle measured between 300 and 375 feet on each side and was lined around the interior with a covered walkway. It included the church, the padres’ apartments, the monjario (dwelling for unmarried women), workshops, and storerooms. All wings except the padres’ residence opened only to the interior courtyard; a gate on one side gave entrance to carts. The Chumash lived on the southeast side of the quadrangle in traditional brush homes and obtained daily meals from the pozolera (cook house). Quarters for the garrison of soldiers and their families was to the northeast. Fields and orchards stretched northward toward the Santa Ynez River.”
[Note: Most signs at the site carry the name “Mission Vieja.” Vieja in Spanish means “old” so Mission Vieja would translate to “Old Mission.”]
|Head back to F Street and across the street you see the remains of the old church. At the far end of the lot the church stands on is a trail that leads to the rest of the old mission tour. Standing on the top of the hill you can look around and see the church and, toward E Street, the remains of some of the waterworks.|
|What is left of the church is its doorway. From the trail you are looking into the church. Originally, it was 100 feet long, 52 feet wide, and nearly 30 feet high. The altar was at the far west end. Detail below…|
For comparison, the new Mission has a diagram of what the old Mission looked like as well as a photograph of how it looked some time after the destruction. Compare these with what you see here. (Note: These drawings and photos were in the new mission in 2001 but I did not see them when I again visited in 2016.)
From a plaque by the waterworks: “A convenient and reliable water supply was needed for cooking, washing, shop activities, and irrigating orchards and fields. An aqueduct was constructed to carry water from nearby Miguelitó Canyon to a reservoir on the hillside. From there the water was distributed through the community in channels made of lime-mortared stones and tiles.”
At the site are the remains of a long lavadero where clothes were washed.
And, in the railroad cut is a section of an aqueduct. (The railroad travels three blocks west toward I Street where it turns south and parallels the road which travels up Miguelitó Canyon; the old mission water supply site.)
From another plaque in the area: “Misión La Purísima Conceción de Maria Santísima was founded here on December 8, 1787, 11th of eventually 21 missions. One of the more successful establishments, by 1806 it included irrigated fields and orchards, vast herds of livestock, and a population of over 11,000 Chumash. Disaster struck in 1812, el Año de los Temblores. Beginning on December 21, a series of earthquakes brought down the adobe walls and tiled roofs, heavy rains caused mud slides, and swollen river flooded the fields.”
|Was the destruction just the combination of earthquakes and rain or was there a massive flood as indicated in the Sunset book: “Then like a wicked after-thought the hillside back of the mission opened in a great crack, to let torrents of water flood the site, bringing complete devastation.” We can’t know for certain what happened on that fateful night, but if you look at the hill behind the mission site you can see a large crack that could have easily opened during the earthquake and channeled water onto the mission.|
Landmark No. 928
The original mission site is designated at State Historical Landmark No. 928…
Original Site of Mission de la Purisima Concepcion de Maria Santisima
The ruins at this site are part of the original mission founded by Padre Fermin de Lasuen on December 8, 1787, as the 11th in the chain of Spanish Missions in California. The Mission was destroyed by earthquake on December 21, 1812; the present Mission La Purisima was then established several miles away.
California registered Historical Landmark No. 928.
Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the La Purisima Parlor No. 327, Native Daughters of the Golden West, September 26, 1979
[Note: I’ve taken the liberty of removing some telephone wires from the pictures on this page. Also, a special thanks to one of the local residents who assisted me at the site.]