Monday, July 2, 2012

San Juan Bautista

Mission San Juan Bautista

We had a great trip to the town of San Juan Bautista near Monterey, CA. It’s an old town built around the Mission that was begun June 24, 1797 by Franciscan Father Fermin Lasuen. The mission was the 15th of 21 built by missionaries in the untamed new frontier of Alto California. Mission San Juan Bautista still serves as a local catholic church for the surrounding area. We were there Sunday and it was packed with local people.
Mission Bapistry
The mission was built along the El Camino Real or the King’s highway, which ran from Mission San Diego all the way to Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma. The mission settlements were approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) apart, so that they were separated by one long day's ride on horseback along the 600-mile (966-kilometer) long El Camino Real.
Fault Scarp to the left of Original El Camino Real Roadway
Mission San Juan Bautista was built next to the famed San Andreas Fault. It's only about 100 feet from the mission walls. There’s a 15 foot cliff (fault scarp) that is visable and where the Pacific tectonic plate piles up against the North American plate. This old section of the original El Camino Real follows the fault itself, close to the mission. Very interesting.
Castro/Breen Adobe
There are many old buildings in San Juan Bautista including the Castro/Breen Adobe which originally was built as an adobe home in 1838 for Mexican General Jose Castro. The adobe then became a home for the Breen family who had survived 111 days in the Sierra Nevada Mountains as members of the Donner Party. The sixteen year old Breen son, John, set out for the gold fields in 1848 and returned with over $10,000.00 in gold dust. The Gold dust was used by the Breens to buy the adobe from the Castros and 400 acres of prime farmland nearby. 
Plaza Hotel
There’s also the Plaza hotel which was begun in 1814 as a one-story adobe barrack for the spanish soldiers who protected the mission. In 1865 Italian immigrant Angelo Zanetta leased the building and added a redwood second story that became the Plaza Hotel, opening in 1859. The Plaza was well known for it's fine dining and popular saloon.
Plaza Hall
Angelo Zanetta later remodeled an earlier mission building into Plaza Hall which became the large elegant Zanetta home. Many elegant events were held in the grand ballroom upstairs.
The Plaza Stable serviced the busy stagecoach and wagon traffic through San Juan Batista when it was a transpotation hub on the El Camino Real. There were up to 11 stage coaches a day that passed through San Juan Bautista on The Royal Road. Eventually the railroad bypassed the town and San Juan Bautista declined in importance.
San Juan Baptista Main Alter
The old mission itself has a peaceful, very restful kind of atmosphere. San Juan Bautista is a must see. Highly Recommended!
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