The California Missions On-Line Project
Mission San Buenaventura
Founded March 31, 1782

Founding of the mission

Mission San Buenaventura was founded on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1782 by Father Junipero Serra. It was the 9th mission in the 21 mission chain in Alta California. It was named for Saint Bonaventure, and was the last mission to be founded by Father Serra. In 1794 the first church burned down. It took the Indians 15 years to build the new church. That church still stands today.

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Local Indians

The friendly Chumash Indians were happy to live at the mission. They were so friendly that the mission was founded right in their village. The Chumash were expert boat builders which was helpful as the mission sits on the coast with a view of the ocean. By 1816, the mission had 1,328 Indians living in its' compound. They had made cone shaped homes of tule grass. The women were known for their basket making.

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Economy of the mission

The economy of the missions were similar to each other in that they planted crops of wheat and corn. They also planted vineyards, and raised cattle and sheep. The agriculture was needed not only to maintain the mission community and the nearby Indians, but was used for trade and served to visitors to the mission. The Indians at Mission San Buenaventura built a 7 mile aqueduct to bring water to the mission from the mountains. This irrigation helped the crops to grow. The results of this made the mission famous for its' exotic fruits, herbs, vegetables, bananas, sugar cane, figs and coconuts. The mission also had many livestock grazing on their lands.

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The community
Click here to see a video Inside the Mission Quadrangle

There was a complete quadrangle during the mission years. the church was on the southwest corner and a cemetery was on the west side on the church. A grade school now stands where the old cemetery was. In 1818, the pirate Bouchard, was seen of off the coast of California. He had been terrorising the entire coast. The padres and Indians buried some of their valuables and took the rest to the mountains for a month until the pirate had gone.

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After Mexico won its independence from Spain, it found that it could no longer afford to keep the missions running as Spain had done. In 1834, Mexico decided to end the mission system and sell all of the lands. They offered the lands to the Indians who did not want the lands or could not come up with the purchase price. The lands were divided into smaller Ranchos and sold to Mexican citizens who were helpful during the war for independence. After nearly 30 years, the missions were returned to the Catholic Church. Although some of the missions had already been returned to the church, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act declaring that all of the 21 missions in the California mission chain would become the property of the Catholic Church and have remained so since that time. In 1845, the mission had supposedly been rented for the next nine years. However, Governor Pio Pico had sold the land illegally and kept the money for himself.

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In 1893, Father Cyprian Rubio modernised the interior of the church. He painted right over the Indians' original artwork. When he finished almost nothing remained of the old church. In 1957, new priests restored the church to its original style.

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Current use

Today all that is left of the mission is the church and its garden. Services are still held in the parish church. A small museum sits at the mission with displays of Chumash artifacts and mission period items.

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Graphic tour
Click below to see a video Inside the Mission Church
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Mission Quiz

Objective: answer 7 questions correctly. JavaScript required!

1. Who was the founder of Mission San Buenaventura?

Jose Ventura
Fermin Lasuen
Junipero Serra
Sebastian Vizcaino

2. Mission San Buenaventura was founded....?

March 31, 1782
September 21, 1769
April 21, 1782
June 14, 1804

3. What Indian Tribe was in the area of the San Buenaventura Mission?


4. Mission San Buenaventura was the last Mission that Father Junipero Serra..?

said mass

5. Who did the actual building of the missions?

construction companies
the priests
the soldiers
the local Indians

6. What happened to the missions in 1834?

They opened
The Indians took over

7. How many Indians lived in the Mission compound in 1816?


8. What did Pio Pico do in 1845?

discovered gold at the mission
repair the mission
illegally sold the mission and kept the money for himself

9. What happened in 1794?

An earthquake
Missions were taken over by Mexican priests
the Mission burned down

10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in 1863?

Formally return the Mission lands to the Church
Run for President of the United States
Visit the San Antonio de Padua Mission
force the Indians to leave the Mission

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The Mission Page | The Assessment Page |Main Page

Other San Buenaventura sites:

California Mission Internet Trail

The Spanish Missions of California

California Missions Interactive Homepage

California Missions

Mission San Buenaventura - Very brief description of the mission's early history, physical appearance, bells, hours, how to arrange a guided tour.

This project written by Rob Garretson in partial fulfilment of the Master's of Arts Degree from Cal Poly Pomona

Please send questions and/or comments to Mr. Garretson

This page last updated on Febraury 28, 2015