Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo (part 1)


Mission San Jose was established in 1720, by the Catholic Church and Spain for the purpose of transforming natives into loyal, productive Spanish citizens in an effort to establish colonies in this part of New Spain.  Mission San Antonio de Valero had been founded in 1718 and three other missions would later be relocated from East Texas.  This group of missions were moderately successful in their mission work.  Mission San Jose was relocated to this location in 1740. 
After secularization was completed in 1824 San Jose would fall into disrepair.  Fortunately, through the work of the San Antonio Conservation Society, federal New Deal agencies, state and local agencies the mission was saved from destruction.  Today the five missions form the San Antonio Missions National Park.

Chapel doorway
Ornate carvings and bright geometric designs painted on the chapel wall earned Mission San Jose the title of "Queen of the Missions".

The door on the right is the stairway to the bell tower.  The wooden steps (barely visible) were hand hewn by Indian workers from single blocks of wood.  The bell tower collapsed in 1928.  The roof  and church dome had collapsed in 1874. The massive wooden doors on the chapel had disappeared and the sagging doorway had been propped up.  The statues and carvings had been destroyed by souvenir hunters who took away chipped off pieces.

The granary
This granary could hold enough grain to feed the mission for a  year.  When restoration efforts began its roof was also missing and cows and bootleggers where its inhabitants. The roof was restored by the WPA.

Interior of the granary
The first time I visited San Jose was in the fall of 1976.  It was a cool, crisp day outside, but when I walked into the granary I immediately felt the warmth of a small fire burning in the fireplace (left side).  I doubt they burn fires in there any more, but it was an amazing experience to feel that warmth from all the way across the room.  The object at the back of the room is a glassed in, narrated diorama that shows the mission as it was in mission times.  I suspect the painting on the roof dates to the WPA project, but have not confirmed that.  Note the distinctive line of where the original wall meets the restored roof.

Side view of granary (entrance is just beyond the first buttress)
(to be continued)

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