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Navigation for San Gabriel Arcángel:

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel

In Brief

Founded: 8 September 1771 by Blessed Junípero Serra
Named for: Archangel Gabriel
Number in Series: 4th
Indian Name: Sibagna or Tobiscagna
Brand: San Gabriel Brand


date: Item.




  • California Missions by Sunset Editors. (September 1979) Sunset Pub Co
  • Mission Info Page at url
  • Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record San Gabriel Mission Data Sheet at the Library of Congress


Holding area for random notes:

1 September 1771: Mission established. [reconcile date]

1775: Mission moved five miles east to present location.

1791: Mission construction (through 1805).

1810: San Bernardino asistencia established.

1851: Mormon settlers use San Bernardino asistencia.

9 January 1857: Bells thrown to ground by Fort Tejon earthquake.

1912: First production of John McGroarty's The Mission Play at the mission.


No tiles before 1790.


Engineering Record:

Date of erection: Present church started 1794 - completed 1806.

Architect: Padre Antonio Curzado.

Builder: Indian labor under direction of Padres Curzado and Sanchez

Present Conditions: Of the buildings that composed the original group, there remain the Church, 'the Padres' Living Quarters, an adjoining Kitchen, and foundations of a Tannery, Soap Factory and Smithy. The church is in fair condition, and still serves the community as a Catholic Church. The Padres' Quarters is also in fair condition, and is used as a Museum for the display of Mission relies, the sale of cards, pictures and' souvenirs of the Mission, and for storage purposes. The shop foundations are in a ruined condition.

Number of stories. The church is a high one-story structure with a choir balcony at the east end.

Materials of construction: Foundations of all remaining buildings are of fieldstones, laid in lime mortar. Walls of the church are part stone, part burned brick, laid in lime mortar and thinly plastered both sides. Floors are of wood; roof over Baptistry and Sacristry are of stone laid in lime mortar. Roof framing of church nave is of wood finished with a flat wood ceiling. The roof is covered with wood shingles.

Walls of Padres' Quarters are of sun-dried adobe brick laid in adobe mortar, adobe plastered and white washed. The flooring is wood as also is the roof framing, shingle covered.

The foundation ruins of Shops are a mixture of stone and burned brick, laid in lime mortar.

The Church was built originally with an arched stone roof. In 1803 it was badly cracked by an earthquake and in 1804 a wood framed roof was constructed in its place.

Additional data: San Gabriel was founded in 1771, being the fourth in the chain of twenty-one California Missions, The original site of the founding and building was several miles to the south of the present property, a site that proved to be unsuitable by reason of river floods.

The present church had a bell-tower, originally on the northeast corner. This was destroyed in the earthquake of 1812, after which a pierced wall was erected at the west end of the south front, to serve as a Belfry.

As with the other Missions, there were shops and store houses built to provide for the several industrial activities of the establishment. These were erected with stone foundations and adobe walls. At the present time there remains the foundations together with the tannery vats, soap ovens, and fire pits of the smithy. These are of stone and brick, as above mentioned. No clear description or pictures have been found to indicate what the superstructures might have been.

Note: As the measurements and drawings of the Shop Ruins together with the photographs of the same were made subsequent to the drawings of the Church, a new survey number was given them, namely, 37-8A.

June 1, 1937


The mission was founded in 1771 and several successive chapels and buildings were erected. In 1781 the Pobladores, (founders of the Pueblo of Los Angeles) rested at the mission after their long journey from Mexico, and started out on September 4th, 1781 to found the new city.

Years later, in 1794, the present church of stone was begun, and was dedicated in 1806. This church was designed by Padre Antonio Curzado, who was in charge of the mission at that time, and with the help of Padre Sanchez and Indian labor, it was erected. The original arched roof of stone was so badly cracked by the earthquake of 1803 that it was necessary to tear it down and substitute the timbered roof in 1804. "The heavy buttresses at San Gabriel Mission were probably patterned subconsciously after the Cathedral of Cordova in Spain, where Curzado was trained.



Entombed at the foot of the altar are the remains of eight Franciscan priests (listed in order of interment): Father Miguel Sánchez, Father Antonio Cruzado, Father Francisco Dumetz, Father Roman Ulibarri, Father Joaquin P. Nuez, Father Gerónimo Boscana, Father José Bernardo Sánchez, and Father Blas Ordaz. Buried among the padres is Eulalia Perez de Guillén Mariné, the centanarian "keeper of the keys" under Spanish rule; her grave is marked by a bench in her memory.




Navigation for Mission San Gabriel Arcángel:

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