11 Most Endangered Historic Places
Mission San Miguel Arcangel
Year Listed: 2006
Midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the historic Camino Real (the Royal Road, now Highway 101) stands Mission San Miguel Arcangel, founded in 1797 as the 16th of California's famed 21 Spanish missions. The present mission church, completed in 1821, is one of California's best-preserved and authentic reminders of the past. Collectively the oldest Euro-American structures in what is now California, the Spanish missions played a critical role in the occupation of Alta California, the northernmost frontier of New Spain, securing souls for the Church and land for the Crown. A superb example of Franciscan Mission architecture and recently designated a National Historic Landmark, Mission San Miguel is famous for its much-photographed and studied exterior and an interior glowing with elaborate murals painted by Salinan Indian converts under the direction of Spanish artist Esteban Munras. The murals are the only surviving example of unrestored Spanish Colonial art in any of the California missions.