“Unusually designed mission church”
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a Spanish mission founded in 1772 by Father Junípero Serra in the present-day city of San Luis Obispo, California. Named after Saint Louis of Anjou, the bishop of Toulouse, the mission is the namesake of the city of San Luis Obispo and San Luis Obispo County. The Mission church of San Luis Obispo is unusual in its design in that its combination of belfry and vestibule is found nowhere else among the California missions. The main nave is short and narrow (as is the case with other mission churches), but at San Luis Obispo there is a secondary nave of almost equal size situated to the right of the altar, making this the only "L"-shaped mission church among all of the California missions. The mission church today is a parish church of the Diocese of Monterey. After California became a part of the United States (1850), the first California bishop, Joseph Alemany, petitioned the Government to return some of the Mission lands back to the Church. Since that time, there have been considerable civic and political changes and the Mission has undergone dramatic structural changes. In the 1880’s the front portico/bell loft had to be removed as it was so weakened by an earthquake. At this time an effort was made to “modernize” the structures. The colonnades along the front of the convento wing were razed and both the Church and the residence were covered with wooden clapboard. A New England style belfry was added as well. These changes did work to protect the structure from further decay, and in the 1930s during the pastorship of Fr John Harnett the buildings underwent extensive restoration to transform them back to early-mission style. In 1893, an annex had been added to the right of the sanctuary and was extended in 1948.
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Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
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