Mission San Juan Bautista

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Mission San Juan Bautista was founded on June 24, 1797 in what is now the San Juan Bautista Historic District of San Juan Bautista, California. Barracks for the soldiers, a nunnery, the Jose Castro House, and other buildings were constructed around a large grassy plaza in front of the church and can be seen today in their original form. The Ohlone, the original residents of the valley, were brought to live at the mission and baptized, followed by Yokuts from the Central Valley. Mission San Juan Bautista has served mass daily since 1797.

Mission San Juan Bautista is the largest of the Spanish missions in California.[9] The mission was used in the 1958 Hitchcock film Vertigo, but the bell-wall was treated as a "bell tower" staircase, actually constructed on a studio lot.



Following its creation in 1797, San Juan's population grew quickly. By 1803, there were 1,036 Native Americans living at the mission. Ranching and farming activity had moved apace, with 1,036 cattle, 4,600 sheep, 22 swine, 540 horses and 8 mules counted that year. At the same time, the harvest of wheat, barley and corn was estimated at 2,018 fanegas, each of about 220 pounds. Father Pedro Estévan Tápis (who had a special talent for music) joined Father de la Cuesta at Mission San Juan Bautista in 1815 to teach singing to the Indians. He employed a system of notation developed in Spain that uses varied colors or textures for polyphonic music, usually (from bottom to top) solid black, solid red, black outline (sometimes solid yellow) and red outline (or black outline when yellow was used). His choir of Native American boys performed for many visitors, earning the San Juan Bautista Mission the nickname "the Mission of Music." Two of his handwritten choir books are preserved at the San Juan Bautista Museum. When Father Tapis died in 1825 he was buried on the mission grounds. The town of San Juan Bautista, which grew up around the mission, expanded rapidly during the California Gold Rush and continues to be a thriving community today. The structures suffered extensive damage in the earthquakes of 1800 and 1906; the mission was restored initially 1884, and then again in 1949 with funding from the Hearst Foundation, and today continues to serve as a parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey.

The mission and its grounds were featured prominently in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo. Associate producer Herbert Coleman's daughter Judy Lanini suggested the mission to Hitchcock, as a filming location. A steeple, added sometime after the mission's original construction and secularization, had been demolished following a fire, so Hitchcock added a "bell tower" using scale models, matte paintings, and trick photography at the Paramount Pictures studio in Los Angeles. The mission was built immediately adjacent to the San Andreas Fault and has suffered damage from numerous earthquakes over the years, but it has never been completely demolished. An unpaved stretch of the original El Camino Real, just east of the mission, lies on a fault scarp.[10]

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