Half an hour inland from the Pacific Ocean is the largest of all the California Missions, San Juan Bautista. The only mission with a nave and two aisles, it is the jewel among several historical buildings adjacent to the only remaining original Spanish plaza in California.
Visiting Mission San Juan Bautista today is like going back to the 1800s when the area was populated by the Native Americans, Spanish Franciscans and soldiers, the Mexican Californios, and settlers. Surrounding the Plaza are the original Plaza Stables, the Plaza Hall-Zanetta House, the Castro-Breen Adobe, and the Plaza Hotel.
Founded in 1797 by Franciscan Missionaries and built in concert with the Native Americans, the current Mission structure was completed in 1812. That year it was dedicated on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist. Six months later a substantial earthquake struck damaging the Mission.
More damage occurred as a result of the famed San Francisco earthquake of 1906 which left some outer walls piles of crumbled adobe bricks. They remained that way until the mid-1970s when the original side aisles were restored in a major renovation and the arches once again opened up. The bell wall was added to replicate the Victorian era bell tower erected between 1865 and 1874. It had been removed in the late 1940s due to lack of maintenance.
At 31 feet high, the Mission walls are within yards of the infamous San Andreas Fault. The unreinforced adobe construction is susceptible to substantial damage or even failure during earthquakes. The State of California has mandated that this historic Mission be seismically strengthened to meet current historical standards.
The entire building envelope of Mission San Juan Bautista needs to be waterproofed and remediated. The Mission roof needs reconstruction to replace rotted timbers, insufficient underlayment, broken tiles and to upgrade flashing. The existing cement plaster needs to be removed and replaced with a lime based plaster because moisture intrusion and entrapment is deteriorating the adobe walls from the inside. Drainage systems need to be upgraded to protect the Mission from future deterioration. The Historic Structures Report notes the south wall has increased 7” in thickness from the swelling due to moisture intrusion. This is why we must act now to save our Mission.
Architectural Resources Group, Inc. (ARG) of San Francisco, one of the top architectural companies that actually specialize in historic buildings and their restoration, prepared a thorough engineering report that covers site geology, hydrology, structural, as well as mechanical, plumbing, and electrical upgrades. Dr. Reuben Mendoza of CSU Monterey Bay, the leading authority on Mission San Juan Bautista, compiled the historic and archeological reports to assure historical integrity. The estimated cost to save Mission San Juan Bautista is $14,000,000.00. This is a challenging amount, but the good news is this project can be done in phases. We will save the Mission church first.
The specific purpose of Mission San Juan Bautista Preservation Fund is to promote and provide fundraising efforts and funds for the preservation, restoration, and essential conservation of historic Mission San Juan Bautista. Dedicated in 1797, and recognized as California Registered Historical Landmark No. 195, Mission San Juan Bautista is truly an exceptional and spiritual place.
Thank you for your interest and generosity in saving Mission San Juan Bautista and protecting the legacy of this very special piece of California History so that visitors and the greater community can experience this historic treasure and it’s inspiring serenity for decades to come.
Please submit donations payable to:
Mission San Juan Bautista Preservation Fund
PO Box 222, San Juan Bautista, CA 95045.
If you need any additional information about the MSJB Preservation Fund,
Please contact our Executive Director, Jewel-Sean Gentry:
JGentry@scumb.edu or 831-593-5080