Field Notes

San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano offers a glimpse into California’s past. This historic site is a distinctive destination and is protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It “was first founded by Father Lasuen, on October 30th. But just a few weeks after the party of padres and soldiers arrived, they received word of the revolt occurring in San Diego. The founding padres, and soldiers decided to leave San Juan Capistrano, and go back to San Diego to help there. Once things had settled in San Diego, Saint Serra personally led a party to re-found Mission San Juan Capistrano on All Saint’s Day, November 1, 1776.”

The Great Stone Church started construction in 1797 and concluded in 1806. California experienced an earthquake in 1812 which caused the building to collapse and kill more than 40 people during mass. The walls remain and mark the echos of voices from the past.

You will find a series of informative exhibits, such as the Legacy of Saint Serra. Visit the mission’s exhibit page to see a list of current exhibits.


While you visit San Juan Capistrano, make sure to visit the Los Rios Street Historic District. It is part of the National Register of Historic Places.


You will encounter the Montanez Adobe that was constructed in 1794. It is one of the forty houses built for the Mission Native Americans. It was restored in the 1980s with seismic retrofit beams. This historic site has period piece reproduction furniture.

We suggest you visit the O’Neill Museum – San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. Don’t miss this year’s June Annual Society Mixer on Saturday, June 16, 2018. “Every June, the Society hosts a mixer for its members and guests. The mixer is held on the beautiful O’Neill Museum grounds. Generous amounts of food and beverages are served. Attendees are also invited to take part in a silent auction and raffle for a chance to enjoy exceptional prizes. Admission for members is free. Guests are asked to pay a nominal fee to cover food costs.”

Currently they are exhibiting the “History of Farming in the Capistrano Valley” from February 1 through June 30, 2018. “The Historical Society is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Arley Leck House with an exhibit chronicling the evolution of farming in the Capistrano Valley. The exhibit will be on display in the Leck House and includes historic photographs, orange crate labels and memorabilia such as clothing and lifestyle items from the early 1900s. Members of the public are invited to attend this free event.”

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