Mission Revival Style architecture

Mission Revival Style architecture
Part of the
Spanish missions in California
Mission San Juan Capistrano postcard 1920.jpg
 Architecture of the California missions 
Mission Revival Style architecture
California mission clash of cultures
Santa Barbara Station, built in 1902 in Santa Barbara, California, a railroad depot example of the Mission Revival Style.
San Gabriel Civic Auditorium (1927), San Gabriel, California,

The Mission Revival Style was an architectural movement that began in the late 19th century for a colonial style's revivalism and reinterpretation, which drew inspiration from the late 18th and early 19th century Spanish missions in California.

The Mission Revival movement enjoyed its greatest popularity between 1890 and 1915, through numerous residential, commercial, and institutional structures, particularly with schools and railroad depots, that used this easily recognizable architectural style. [1] It evolved into and was subsumed by the more articulated Spanish Colonial Revival Style, established in 1915 at the Panama–California Exposition.



1797 Mission San Fernando Rey de España: View looking down an exterior arcade or corredor, an element frequently used in Mission Revival design.

All of the colonial Las Californias missions (active 1769—1823), their compound's church and support structures, shared certain design characteristics. This is due to several factors: to the models for religious buildings the founding Franciscan missionaries had seen and emulated being Renaissance and Baroque examples in Spain and colonial Mexico City in New Spain; to the limited availability and variety of building materials besides adobe near mission sites or imported to Alta California; and, to both the missionaries and indigenous Californians having minimal 'western' construction skills and experience.



The missions' style of necessity and security evolved around an enclosed courtyard, using massive adobe walls with broad unadorned plaster surfaces, limited fenestration and door piercing, low-pitched roofs with projecting wide eaves and non-flammable clay roof tiles, and thick arches springing from piers. Exterior walls were coated with white plaster (stucco), which with wide side eaves shielded the adobe brick walls from rain. Other features included long exterior arcades, an enfilade of interior rooms and hallss, semi-independent bell gables, and at more prosperous missions curved 'Baroque' gables on the principle facade with towers.


These architectural elements were replicated, in varying degrees, accuracy, and proportions, in the new Mission Revival structures. Simultaneous with the original style's revival was an awareness in California of the actual missions fading into ruins and their restoration campaigns, and nostalgia in the quickly changing state for a 'simpler time' as the novel Ramona popularized at the time. Contemporary construction materials and practices, earthquake codes, and building uses render the structural and religious architectural components primarily aesthetic decoration, while the service elements such as tile roofing, solar shielding of walls and interiors, and outdoor shade arcades and courtyards are still functional.

The Mission Revival style of architecture, and subsequent Spanish Colonial Revival style, have historical, narrative—nostalgic, cultural—environmental associations, and climate appropriateness that have made for a predominant historical regional vernacular architecture style in the Southwestern United States, especially in California.

In prose
Give me neither Romanesque nor Gothic;
much less Italian Renaissance,
and least of all English Colonial —
this is California — give me Mission.
Anonymous, 1924[2]

Mission Revival Style examples

The Mission Inn entry portal, in Riverside, Southern California.

The Mission Inn in Southern California is one of the largest extant Mission Revival Style buildings in the United States. Located in Riverside, it has been restored, with tours of the style's expression. [3]

Other structures designed in the Mission Revival Style include:

See also


  1. ^ Weitze, p. 14: "Railroad literature described the missions as 'Worthy a glance from the tourists [sic] eye,' with the Southern Pacific, from 1888 to 1890, publishing numerous pamphlets that included sections on the missions."
  2. ^ Rey, Felix (October 1924). "A Tribute to Mission Style". Architect and Engineer. 
  3. ^ http://www.riversideca.gov/historic/pdf/hpDistrictBrochureText.pdf
  4. ^ Richard Melzer (2008). Fred Harvey Houses of the Southwest. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 37–40. http://books.google.com/books?id=jzR_PtaFNFoC&pg=PA31&lpg=PA31&dq=la+castaneda+las+vegas,+new+mexico+architect&source=bl&ots=m3HE6qTrs7&sig=wtWTj-Hb7Iz_c7xv3q6YvKqGvNI&hl=en&ei=_vNaTtvUKtHKiALs28y2CQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CHAQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  5. ^ http://www.arrowheadsprings.org/html/history.html arrowheadsprings.org. 'history.' access date: 5/11/2010.
  6. ^ St. Petersburg Historic Preservation - Hotels
  7. ^ Big Orange-Lederer Residence
  8. ^ Big Orange—Canoga Mission Gallery
  9. ^ Jones, p. 2
  10. ^ Jones, p. 42

Further reading

  • Gustafson, Lee and Phil Serpico (1999). Santa Fe Coast Lines Depots: Los Angeles Division. Acanthus Press, Palmdale, CA. ISBN 0-88418-003-4. 
  • Jones, R. (1991). The History of Villa Rockledge. American National Research Institute, Laguna Beach, CA. 
  • Weitze, Karen J. (1984). California's Mission Revival. Hennessy & Ingalls, Inc., Los Angeles, CA. ISBN 0-912158-89-1. 
  • Yenne, Bill (2004). The Missions of California. Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, CA. ISBN 1-59223-319-8. 

External links

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