|Presidio Chapel, Monterey, California.|
On June 17, 1776, Lieutenant Jose Moraga, 16 soldiers and small group of colonists left the Monterey Presidio for San Francisco Bay. Among the travelers were Fathers Francisco Palou and Pedro Cambon, who accompanied the expedition as founders of the mission. They arrived four days later and set up a camp on the bank of a lake, named Laguna de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores (Lake of our Lady of Sorrows).
|Lieutenant Jose Moraga.|
The commander ordered an arbor to be constructed, and the Fathers celebrated the first mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 1776, just five days before the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. This little tule arbor built by Spanish soldiers was the first church in San Francisco. This church was located on the site where the Mission Dolores was later constructed. The date of June 29th would become the official birthday of the City of San Francisco.
|Father Francisco Palou.|
Construction of Mission Dolores began on August 18, 1776. The church was dedicated on October 9th of that year. Of the 21 California Missions, this was the sixth to be established under the direction of Father Junipero Serra.
|Father Junipero Serra.|
|Mission San Rafael Archangel.|
Unfortunately, the often cold and damp weather kept the Native Americans way from this place. Almost an entire year went by before the first Native Americans were baptized there. The climate at the mission site was severe, often with chilly sea winds and damp fogs. This did not help the many natives stricken with the diseases brought by the foreigners. More than 5,000 Native Americans eventually died here from the measles epidemic. The problem of sick natives was so great that eventually, in 1817, a hospital mission was opened in San Rafeal where the Mission Dolores inhabitants could recuperate in the sunshine. This site would later become the Mission San Rafael Archangel.
1782 - 1791.
|Mission Dolores Chapel, 1791.|
In 1782 Father Palóu decided to move the mission to a more favorable site. In 1791 a beautiful new adobe church was dedicated. The chapel is an excellent example of vernacular colonial Spanish architecture. The walls are constructed of adobe brick four feet thick and the roof beams are of redwood. Traditional Indian designs have been reproduced on the ceiling with vegetable dyes. The Neophytes (Christianized Native Americans) built this church so well that it withstood the 1906 Earthquake of San Francisco.
|Photo of Mission Dolores, taken after 1906 Earthquake.|
In 1834, Mexico decided to close Mission Dolores, as well as all the other missions, and sell the land. Mission Dolores was the first to be secularized. The Indians did not want to come back, and no one would buy it, so it remained the property of the Mexican government.