My wife and grandson and I visited La Purisma Mission near Lompoc one Saturday in July 2012 (see previous posting) and the next day we drove down Highway 246 for about a half-hour until we reached the town of Solvang and another California Mission, Mission Santa Ines, the 19th of the 21 missions established by Franciscan priests between 1769 and 1823. Mission Santa Ines is about half-way between Mission Santa Barbara and Mission La Purisma and was founded by Father Estevan Tapis in 1804 and is often called “The Mission of the Passes.” Highway 154, a short distance east of the mission, goes over San Marcos Pass on “the back-way” to Santa Barbara. Gaviota Pass is a few miles south of the mission on Highway 101. And Highway 246 goes over the pass to Lompoc and Mission La Purisma.
Unlike La Purisma which is a State Historic Park, Mission Santa Ines is an active Catholic church and parish serving the citizens of Solvang and Santa Inez Valley. Besides the church and bell tower there are a gift shop and museum on the church grounds as well as a beautiful garden in the church’s courtyard. At the gift shop adults are charged $6.00 for a self-guided tour of the museum, church and garden (kids are fee). The museum has its own exits to the church and garden. But we visited on a Sunday when the main entrance doors to the church and the gardens were wide open.
An earthquake destroyed the original mission in 1812 but it was rebuilt by 1817. In 1823 Mexico obtained its independence from Spain and in 1824 soldiers, unhappy over being cut off from pay and supplies, took their anger out on the local members of the Chumash tribe who rebelled and the revolt soon spread to Santa Barbara and La Purisma Missions. In 1835 the Mexican government secularized the Missions, handing church property over to local ranch owners. In 1844 the first college / seminary in California (The College of Our Lady of Refuge) was founded on mission grounds. It was relocated in 1868 and closed in 1881. By and by the Chumash disappeared and the mission buildings fell into ruins. In 1862 President Lincoln returned the 21 missions in California to the Catholic Church but nothing was done to Santa Ines until a family named Donahue moved into the old buildings in 1882 and agreed to make some repairs. Then in 1904 Father Alexander Buckler arrived at the Mission and began to restore the facility with help from his niece Mamie Goulet who concentrated on collecting and repairing old vestments that were in use throughout both Baja and Alta California. Some of the vestments she saved were made in France during the 17th century.
In 1911 a large number of settlers from Denmark arrived in the vicinity of the mission and built a new town they named Solvang. They also helped Father Buckler rebuild the mission bell tower which had recently collapsed. In 1924 Father Buckler and his niece retired and the Capuchin Franciscan Brothers from Ireland were invited to come to Santa Ines and they are still here. In 1926 they designed the garden in the shape of a Celtic cross. In 1948 they completed a major restoration project including a new bell tower that resembled the one built for the original mission. There have been several other restoration projects in the last 65 years and Santa Ines is in very good shape today. Future plans call for restoring the Mission’s fulling mill built by an American ex-pirate named Joseph Chapman in 1821. The mill is presently not open to the public.
Here are a few pictures of the Mission I took during our visit in 2012:
And here are a few pictures of the garden in the Mission courtyard:
The following photo of the Mission cemetery in back of the Bell Tower is my entry to Laura and Leanne’s Monochrome Madness Challenge this week over on Leanne’s website.
So whenever you decide to spend a few hours touring the Danish town of Solvang don’t forget to drop by the Old Mission Santa Ines and spend a little time in the church and garden. You won’t be disappointed.
Oh, and if you exit Freeway 101 at Buellton just west of Solvang I recommend that you stop at Andersen’s and try their delicious split-pea soup. Again, you won’t be disappointed.