Mission San Francisco Solano Courtyard

Exit from the museum into the courtyard. Turn left after going through the door and you will see an area covered over with growth that covers the area where a second half of the building once stood. Look closely at the wall. Those pieces of wood sticking out of the plaster once connected to others. The growth is there to protect the area until such time as it can be excavated and studied in detail.

Along Church wall
Picture taken 11:31am 19 Feb 2012

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Should you need them, the restrooms are at the back right of the courtyard. Looking from that location you can see the fountain with the Mission in the background. On the right you can see the start of a large growth of Prickly Pear cactus in front of where the dormitory was. Courtyard
Picture taken 11:57am 19 Feb 2012
PIcture taken 12:00noon 19 Feb 2012

The cactus, in mission times, served as a living fence and food source.

We’ll continue across the cactus to the opposite wall where there are displays of various cooking tools and a sitting area were classes are periodically held on their use.

Beehive Oven
PIcture taken 11:58am 19 Feb 2012

Tallow Pot
Picture taken 10:19am 19 Feb 2012

Beehive Oven
Picture taken 10:20am 19 Feb 2012

When you get over to the display area the two major items you will see are a large tallow pot and a beehive oven. Tallow had many uses at a mission; particularly for candles to provide light at night. The beehive oven was used for making bread and any other baking need. Hot coals would heat up the oven and then the product to be baked inserted and the door closed to keep the heat in. After some time, the door was opened and the baked bread removed.


Take some time to look at the exhibits along the walls in this area. Examples of the different types of fibers worked during mission times and other educational materials are on display.

Looking back toward the Church you should see another important area awaiting excavation being protected by plants.

Along Church Wall
Picture taken 12:01pm 19 Feb 2012

The center of the courtyard is a quiet sitting area with many shade trees and a fountain. The fountain is not original to the Mission as it’s sitting in the middle of what would have been a busy work area back when the Mission was active. Despite that, it’s still a pretty area and the construction of the fountain made use of some discarded construction material.

Fountain and Church
Picture taken 10:18am 19 Feb 2012

Tile Drain
Picture taken 12:00noon 19 Feb 2012
Picture taken 11:59am 19 Feb 2012

As you walk around be certain to look up as well as around. Swallows are common visitors to eaves and overhangs all over California.

Exterior bird nest
Picture taken 10:30am 19 Feb 2012

As you head back toward the Mission museum to exit be certain to detour over to the left and see the covered pathway. There you can see a good example of adobe construction. Keep that pathway’s location in mind as you are going to want to see it again from the outside when you leave the Mission.

Open Walkway
PIcture taken 11:54am 19 Feb 2012
Adobe Detail
PIcture taken 11:54am 19 Feb 2012

Now, find the door back into the museum where you can exit if you are finished with your tour of the courtyard and inside of the Mission.

Museum Door
Picture taken 12:01pm 19 Feb 2012