The La Purisima Mission
The La Purisima Mission is the only fully restored mission complex among the missions of California, even down to the original water system. In your travels through Central California, it’s a great place to visit.
Founded on December 8, 1787, this mission was the eleventh of twenty-one missions founded in the California system under Spain.
Originally founded at what is now the southern end of the city of Lompoc, the disastrous earthquake of December 21, 1812 forced a relocation four miles northward to La Purisma’s present location.
Mission La Purisima Quick Facts
Address: 2295 Purisima Road, Lompoc, CA 93436 (Santa Barbara County)
(Google map for La Purisima Mission – opens in new window)
GPS coordinates: 34.6715, -120.4225
Phone: (805) 733-3713
Park Hours: Open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m; Closed New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day
Self-guided tours: During regular hours
Guided tours: Daily at 1:00 p.m. starting at Visitor Center
Gift Shop: Open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
Formal Name: La Mision de la Purisima Concepcion de la Santisima Virgen Maria – The Mission of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
Web site: www.lapurisimamission.org
When the State Parks speak of “fully restored” they mean it. The restoration began in the 1930’s with the Civilian Conservation Corps providing the man-power and funding.
Not only were the church and living quarters restored, but also the other important support buildings such as the blacksmith shop, pottery shop, weaving, candlemaking, stock fencing, gardens as well as the restoration of the original water system.
This attention to detail adds to the sense of being “transported back in time”. As you wander through the grounds, you expect to see the historical figures appear through the door, and many times you aren’t disappointed.
There is an auxiliary group – Prelado de los Tesoros de la Purisima or the Keepers of the Treasures of La Purisima who function as docents and re-enactors engaged in the activities of daily life at that time.
If you check out their website (listed above in “Quick Facts”) you can see that there are many events scheduled throughout the year celebrating and showing how life was lived in the missions two centuries ago.
The La Purisima Mission State Historic Park is situated on nearly 2000 acres and this isolation gives the visitor the same sense of “distance” from the modern world that is experienced at Mission San Antonio.
One of my favorite places to visit at this mission is the working garden area. The techniques and methods of the mission era have been researched and put into practice.
Our modern day has many benefits and conveniences and that is certainly a good thing. However, in many instances, we moderns have abandoned the brilliant solutions of the past (which might take a bit more work and thought) for the “easy” method which is actually not better in the long term.
You can see some of those earlier, smarter solutions in the garden area, but also all over the complex.
Think, for example, about our solution to hot summers – air conditioning. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, have it and use it in my cars and at home. But the electricity bills can be killer.
Looking at the missions, you can see their solution – thick walls, recessed windows covered by porches which don’t allow much direct sunlight and high ceilings.
Among many other things, that’s one of the best things I enjoy about visiting the California missions, especially the La Purisima Mission – they’re like a time capsule that you can walk through (and enjoy a break from the heat of the day).