When my husband and I drove into the town of San Luis Obispo, California, on our trip north along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to San Francisco, we immediately headed over to the Mission San Luis Obsipo de Tolosa. We had enjoyed seeing other historical Missions along the coast, and we wanted to also visit this Mission which is often called the "Prince of Missions." The Mission is located in the middle of downtown San Luis Obispo, at the corner of Monterey and Chorro Streets.
As the fifth California Mission founded by Father Junipero Serra, on Sept. 1, 1772, it was named after Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse, France; a 14th century Franciscan. The Mission is located in a spacious valley along the central coast which the Spanish named "La Cañada de los Osos" (Valley of the Bears) when they discovered many grizzly bears living there.
The Mission church is unusual in its design. it has a combination of belfry and vestibule and a long secondary nave to the right of the altar which forms an L-shaped church plan. It is a design not found in any of the other California Missions.
The interior of the Mission was restored back to it's original state in 1934, and it is still used as an active parish church.
The San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Mission has a museum that features a rare collection of early California photographs, authentic Serra relics and specimens of Chumash Indian craftsmanship.
I found this collage of early 1900's photographs of all the 21 California Missions very interesting. Notice how many were in rural locations and now those same Missions have had cities grow up around them.
The San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Mission grounds were beautiful. Notice the red tile roofs and the long grape arbor. Under the three bells that were on display (upper left corner of the collage) was a commemorative plaque explaining that the Mission's original bells were lost to time, but these bells were two second and one third generation of bells, called "Joy," "Gloria" and "Sorrow." All of the Mission's bronze bells were usually made in Lima, Peru. Being a bell ringer at the Mission was an honor and it took up to two years to learn the bell ringing craft, as there were complicated bell patterns used to wake the mission inhabitants in the morning, call them to mass and announce the beginning of the siesta. The last two bell ringers at San Luis Obispo did this job for over 60 years each!
The photo on the left of Ah Louis (Wong On), 1840 -1936 - a prominent historical figure who helped to build the town of San Luis Obispo, was in the Mission's museum. His store is now a historical landmark. The bell located next to the store was donated by Howard Wong Louis, his son, in memory of his father. Ah Louis was a Chinese American pioneer who founded his store in 1874 to serve as a grocery and merchandise store, employment office, bank post office and pharmacy. The store was used by the Chinese laborers that were living in the area and working to dig the eight tunnels through the mountains of Cuesta for the Southern Pacific Railroad, from 1884 to 1894.
Our next stop was the third largest wine growing region of California, beautiful Paso Robles, where I was surprised again to be greeted by a statue that I have been fortunate enough to see in Florence, Italy, in Sonoma, California and in Sydney, Australia. Can you guess what it is? If not, I'll be showing it in an upcoming post. It definitely seems to be an unusual "good luck" charm for me!
I'm linking this post to the "Outdoor Wednesday" event on Susan's blog A Southern Daydreamer. Thank you, Susan!