Mission San Gabriel Exterior

When you are in the Mission parking lot, the Mission Church is to your left and a gate in front of you leads into the gift shop and then into the Mission grounds. It’s a small property and there is a small park next to the Mission Church so it’s worth walking around to see the exterior of the Church.

The three-picture panorama on the Mission Home page is a good view of the side of the Church so we’ll repeat it here…

Mission San Gabriel Exterior Side Pan

Picture taken 3:41pm 8 Nov 2005

If you step back some you are in a perfect position to see the fountain in the park and the campanero and bells which, for this Mission, is actually at the back of the Church. Why the back? Probably because the original entry to the Church fronted on El Camino Real and was the door on the right as you look at the picture above (or the right-most picture below). That would have placed the campanero at the “side” of the Church as you faced the entrance; a more normal position.

There are six bells in the bell wall with the oldest cast in Mexico City in 1795. Bell maker Paul Ruelas did that casting. In the lower left you see the large bell which weighs over a ton. It is dated 1830 and was used to ring the Angelus for over a century.

Mission San Gabriel Bells

Picture taken 3:33pm 8 Nov 2005

The fountain in the near-by park along the side of the mission is not original.

Mission San Gabriel Park Fountain

Picture taken 3:40pm 8 Nov 2005

The El Camino Real door was closed for a long time but reopened after seismic strengthening was finished in 1993.

Mission San Gabriel Side Door

Picture taken 3:41pm 8 Nov 2005

As you now walk back toward the parking lot note the stairs on the outside of the Church. These lead up to the choir loft. For a long time, these were the only stairs to the choir loft which is part of the original Church. In 1908 a set of inside stairs were constructed.

Mission San Gabriel Choir Loft Stairs

Picture taken 3:22pm 8 Nov 2005

Walk around to the left now and you will see the true front of the Church. Just outside the front entrance stands the Hannon statue of Saint Serra. Two plaques are on the front of the Church. They are shown below. Notice that in the picture below there is no cross on top of the Church. The 8-foot, 100-pound, 50-year-old metal cross had been taken down due to its fittings coming loose and some time in the winter of 2004/5 the cross was stolen. It was eventually recovered and in 2009 was again placed atop the Church. Since these pictures were taken in 2005 they do not show the cross but you should be able to see it when you visit.

Mission San Gabriel Church Front

Picture taken 4:46pm 8 Nov 2005

Mission San Gabriel Hannon Serra Statue

Picture taken 4:46pm 8 Nov 2005

Mission San Gabriel Oldest Building Plaque

Picture taken 4:46pm 8 Nov 2005

San Gabriel Mission
Founded September 8, 1771This marks the oldest building in Southern California of brick, stone and mortar. Built 1791-1805, completed and dedicated.This tablet was erected by the Alhanbra-San Gabriel Chapter
National Society
Daughters of the American Revolution
August 26, 1968
Mission San Gabriel ArchangelQueen of the missions which brought Christianity and civilizataion to California at the time of the American Revolution.U.S.A. Bicentennial
1776-1976California State Society
Daughters of the American Colonists

Mission San Gabriel US Bicentennial Plaque

Picture taken 4:46pm 8 Nov 2005

Mission San Gabriel Garden Entrance

Picture taken 2:55pm 8 Nov 2005

OK, you now have an overview so walk down the garden wall and into the gift shop and Mission grounds.