Mission La Purísima Concepción

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Mission La Purísima Concepción

Mission La Purisima Concepción, or La Purisima Mission, with the original Spanish name being La Misión de La Purísima Concepción de la Santísima Virgen María, was founded on the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin on December 8, 1787. The present day and second site is located east of the town of Lompoc in Santa Barbara County, California, between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Mission La Purisima is currently the only example in California of a complete Spanish Catholic mission complex.


Lompoc was so small that the Viceroyalty of New Spain made an exception to the rule which stated that no California mission was to be established within seven miles of any pueblo in Las Californias, as the original site of Mission La Purisima was only one mile north from the small settlement. The mission was moved four miles east of the pueblo to its present location after a Santa Barbara Earthquake severely damaged the mission buildings on December 21, 1812.

By 1803, the Mission Indians population had increased, by Indian Reductions, to 1,436 Chumash people. The mission also had 3,230 cattle, 5,400 sheep, 306 horses, and 37 mules. In the same year, there was a harvest of 690 fanegas of wheat, corn and beans (a fanega equaling about 220 pounds).

After Mexico won the Mexican War of Independence in 1823, Spanish funding ceased to the Santa Barbara Presidio. Many soldiers at the mission who were no longer being paid by the new Mexican government took out their frustrations on the local Chumash Indians. After a soldier apparently beat an Indian at nearby Mission Santa Inés, A major Chumash revolt occurred at that mission in 1824. It spread to La Purisima Mission, where the Chumash people took over the mission for one month until more soldiers arrived from Monterey Presidio. Eventually, the Chumash lost their hold on the mission with many leaving the mission soon thereafter. However, many of the Indians who had sought refuge in the neighboring mountains during the revolt returned to the mission.

Following independent Mexico's secularization of the Alta California missions from 1834 to 1843, the buildings of La Purisima Mission were abandoned, and the lands were granted Rancho Ex-Mission la Purisima. By 1934 only nine of the buildings remained intact.

In the 20th century the Civilian Conservation Corps-CCC pledged to restore the mission if enough land could be provided to convert it into a historic landmark. The Catholic Church and the Union Oil Company donated sufficient land for the CCC to proceed with the restoration. The nine buildings as well as many small structures and the original water system were fully restored with the mission's dedication occurring on December 7, 1941, the same day the United States entered World War II. Today, La Purisima Mission is the only example in California of a complete mission complex.

La Purisima Mission State Historic Park

La Purisima Mission is now part of the La Purisima Mission State Historic Park within the California State Parks System. With a visitor center and guided tours, the historic park is maintained by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). Today, the mission is no longer used as a Catholic parish. The mission is reportedly haunted by the Indians and Spaniards who died there and has recently been featured on the paranormal reality TV shows Ghost Adventures, The Othersiders and The Missions of California.

Historic Designations
  • National Register of Historic Places #NPS-78000775 — original La Purisima Mission site.
  • California Historical Landmark #928 — original La Purisima Mission site.
  • Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail - a designated Historic Site on the route of this National Park Service United States National Historic Trail.

Brochure Map for driving

Building Activity

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