Mission San Francisco de Solano

Mission San Francisco de Solano is a Christian religious center that was established by Spanish priests in California. The Franciscan missionary José Altimira founded the mission on July 4, 1823, in what is now Sonoma, California. It was the last of the California missions to be built and the only one built while California was under Mexican rule (1822-1848).Mission Solano, also called the Sonoma Mission, is the farthest north of all the California missions. It lies at the end of El Camino Real (The Royal Highway), a road that begins in San Diego and connects all the missions. The Franciscans are a religious order in the Roman Catholic Church.

Mission Solano was named for Saint Francis Solanus, a Spanish missionary in Peru. Local Miwok Indians helped build the mission and were some of its earliest members. However, a group of Chocuyen Indians rebelled against the mission in 1826 and burned much of it to the ground. The priests’ residence—the convento—survived the attack, and the building is now the oldest in Sonoma.

Mission Solano was rebuilt and became successful in the years that followed. The mission produced grain, leather, vegetables, wine, and other products. Its pastureland supported thousands of cattle, goats, horses, and sheep. In 1833 and 1834, however, the Mexican government took over properties that had belonged to the missions. Mission Solano ceased to exist, but the pueblo (town) of Sonoma grew up around it.

In the late 1800′s, the site of the mission was used as a hay barn, winery, and blacksmith shop. Restoration began in 1909, and the mission opened as a museum in 1913. In the 1940’s, the chapel and convento were restored to their original Spanish style. The mission buildings are now part of the Sonoma State Historic Park.

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