Mission San Antonio de Padua was founded on July 14, 1771, the third mission founded in Alta California by Father Presidente Junípero Serra, and site of the first Christian marriage and first use of fired-tile roofing in Upper California.
The current prevailing theory postulates that Paleo-Indians
entered the Americas from Asia
via ,a land bridge called "Beringia
" that connected eastern Siberia
with present-day Alaska
(when sea levels were significantly lower, due to widespread glaciation) between about 15,000 to 35,000 years ago. The remains of Arlington Springs Man
on Santa Rosa Island
are among the traces of a very early habitation in California, dated to the last ice age
) about 13,000 years ago. The first humans are therefore thought to have made their homes among the southern valleys of California's coastal mountain ranges some 10,000 to 12,000 years ago; the earliest of these people are known only from archaeological evidence. The cultural impacts resulting from climactic changes and other natural events during this broad expanse of time were negligible; conversely, European contact was a momentous event, which profoundly affected California's native peoples.
Father Serra left Fathers Miguel Pieras and Buenaventura Sitjar behind to continue the building efforts, though the construction of the church proper did not actually begin until 1810. By that time, there were 178 Native Americans
living at the Mission.
By 1805, the number had increased to 1,300, but in 1834, after the secularization laws went into effect, the total number of Native Americans at the Mission was only 150. No town grew up around the Mission, as many did at other installations. Today, the nearest city is King City, nearly 29 miles (47 km) away; Jolon, a small town, is located 6 miles (10 km) from the Mission. Historians consider the Mission's pastoral location in the valley of the San Antonio River along the Santa Lucia Mountains as an outstanding example of early mission life.
In 1845, Mexican Governor Pío Pico declared all mission buildings for sale, but no one bid for Mission San Antonio. After nearly 30 years, the Mission was returned to the Catholic Church. In 1894, roof tiles were salvaged from the property and installed on the Southern Pacific Railroad depot located in Burlingame, California (the first permanent structure constructed in the Mission Revival Style). The first attempt at rebuilding the Mission came in 1903, when the California Historical Landmarks League rebuilt the chapel walls. Unfortunately, the earthquake of April 18, 1906, seriously damaged the building. In 1928, Franciscan Friars held services at San Antonio de Padua. It took nearly 50 years to completely restore the Mission. In the 1940s.
The Mission is surrounded by the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation, which was acquired by the U.S. Army from the Hearst family during World War II to train troops. Additional land was acquired from the Army in 1950 to increase the mission area to over 85 acres (340,000 m²). This fort is still actively training troops today.
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- Yenne, Bill (2004). The Missions of California. Advantage Publshers Group, San Diego, CA. ISBN 1-59223-319-8.