Founded: June 24, 1797
Founder: Father Fermin Lasuen
Status: Active Catholic Church
Indian tribes native to surrounding area: Mutsun, Yokuts
Nickname: Mission of Music
Location: 406 Second Street, San Juan Bautista, CA 95045
Preserving the Mission
The mission is currently in need of extensive renovations to bring the structures up to California Earthquake Codes, and to mitigate water damage. If you’d like to learn more or contribute to the preservation of this beautiful and historically important mission, please visit savemissionsjb.com
1797 – Mission founded. 1812 – New church completed (the largest in the mission system). 1835 – Mission secularized. 1859 – Returned to Catholic Church by U.S. President James Buchanan.
Visiting the Mission
- Castro-Breen Adobe – A large adobe house, built in 1838 for Mexican General Jose Antonio Castro. It was purchased in 1848 by Patrick and Margaret Breen, survivors of the ill-fated Donner Party, inmmigrants stranded by snow in the Sierra’s during the winter of 1846-47.
- Plaza Hotel – Built in 1858 by Angelo Zanetta, it was a thriving hotel during the 1800’s.
- Settlers Cabin w/Gardens – A typical cabin housing early California settlers.
- Indian Burial Grounds – Over 4000 Indians are buried in this cemetery next to the Mission Church.
- Plaza Hall – Acquired by Angelo Zanetta in 1868 for use as his private residence.
- Plaza Stable – Circa 1870. The stable was built to handle the extensive stage and wagon traffic flowing thru San Juan Bautista.
- Town Jail – Circa 1880.
The nearby main street features several galleries, restaurants, and antique stores; many of the dowtown buildings are themselves designated historical landmarks.
The mission also sits adjacent to a small dirt path – an original portion of El Camino Real. The path is 9 feet wide, and there are still ruts from wagon wheels visible in a few places. The mission was used as a setting for the climactic scene in the Alfred Hitchcock classic film Vertigo, released in 1958. The original mission steeple had been removed in 1949 due to dry rot and termite damage, so Hitchcock “added” a tower using scale models and matte paintings. The stairway scenes were filmed in the studio.
The Other San Juan Bautista
There was also a Mission San Juan Bautista located in Guerrero, Coahuila, Mexico, as part of the Texas mission system.
San Juan Bautista is one of our favorite missions to visit!
The photos below were taken by the author.