What Happened to Mission Property?

The mission system thrived until the 1830s or so. By then more settlers were arriving and because the Church controlled much of the property. As part of the mission system these settlers could not own property until the mission system had completed its work and turned properties over to the now-civilized Indians. This pressure drove the early secularization and property turnover.

Following secularization the various mission properties rapidly deteriorated; some virtually disappearing in just a few short years. But, what happened to all the “stuff” at the missions? Where did the art and other fixtures of the missions go?

In some cases, the fixtures never left the mission. At Mission Santa Barbara you will find the original Mission altar, tabernacle, retable and statue of Our Lady of Sorrows on display. But, this is rare. More often than not, what is left at a mission will be small bits and pieces put on display at a visitor center or museum.

Every now and again in my mission travels I’ve come across a piece of the old mission system outside the missions. This page will serve as an index to these unique looks at specific items and their relationship to the missions…