Mission San Francisco Solano
Mission San Francisco Solano (1823-1834) - A Mexican Mission established in 1823 by Father Jose Altimira as an asistencia (sub-mission) to Mission San Rafael Arcangel. Later raised to full mission status and initially associated with the Presidio of San Francisco and even later with the Presidio of Sonoma. Located in present day Sonoma, Sonoma County, California. Named for missionary Saint Francis Solanus. Secularized in 1834.
Mexican Period (1822-1846)
The Mexican period began with the end of the Mexican Revolution around 1820. Mexican troops occupied the presidios and Mexican governors ran the province of Alta California. Mission San Francisco Solano was the 21st and last mission established in California and the only one established during the Mexican period. The mission was also the last and the northern most mission on the El Camino Real (Spanish Mission Trail) that stretched from Guatemala to Sonoma.
The Mexican government began the process of secularization (turning church lands over to private interests) around 1831 and passed laws mandating secularization of all missions in Mexico in 1833. Secularization in 1834 ended church ownership of the Mission San Francisco de Asis community property. Most of the missions and presidios were abandoned and fell into disrepair as the lands were redistributed to private owners.
The Presidio of Sonoma was established in 1836 in Sonoma by Mexican Lt. Colonel Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Commandant of the Northern Frontier. The post was established on former mission lands right next to the Mission San Francisco Solano church. The Presidio of Sonoma was built to control hostile Indians and block any Russian expansion from Fort Ross. The Mission San Francisco Solano was in ruins by 1839 and unoccupied.
The American Period (1846-Present)
The Mexican War was declared by the U.S. Congress on 11 May 1846 in response to a Mexican attack on U.S. troops in Texas. The declaration of war opened the door for American occupation of California. The American period began in Sonoma when American settlers occupied the Presidio of Sonoma on 14 Jun 1846 and declared the California Republic. The Republic was short lived and ended when U.S. troops arrived in Sonoma on 9 Jul 1846. The Presidio was renamed Sonoma Barracks in 1847. With end of the war, Mexico ceded all of upper California to the Americans in 1848 and a new round of land redistribution began. The treaty that ended the war promised that Spanish and Mexican land grants would be honored but sorting out conflicting claims took decades to resolve and did not end well for many of the claimants.
The remaining Mission property was sold in 1882 to Solomon Schoken who used it for a variety of purposes. The California Historic Landmarks League bought the remains of Mission San Francisco Solano from Schoken in 1903 and turned it over to the State in 1926. After a series of earthquakes and restorations the chapel and grounds were returned to a more authentic condition and became a part of Sonoma State Historic Park.
Visited: 30 Aug 2009