This is the ninth installment of my Mission Mondays series, exploring all 21 Spanish Missions along the California coast. You can read more about this series, and see a sketch map of all the missions, at this post.
Mission La Purisima Concepción was probably the one for which I did the least amount of research—the mission I knew the least about. I’m so glad I showed up there without doing my homework first, because it ended up being both a complete surprise and my very favorite mission.
La Purisima is unique in a couple of ways: in the first place, it’s one of only two in the chain that have been deconsecrated. Now that it’s no longer an active church, it’s now operated as a California state park.
The other unique thing is that La Purisima is the only mission in the chain to still include the entire mission complex. Most of the missions are down to just the church and gardens, but this one still encompasses the adjacent monastery, workshops, cemetery, and remnants of the mission village.
Much of what’s there today was reconstructed by the CCC in the 1930s (like most of the missions, it was badly damaged in a long-ago earthquake), and currently maintained by the state park system.
I think I arrived not long after a recent restoration, because the place was in fine fettle.
Best of all, I had almost the whole place to myself—which, combined with its remote location, made it feel like I’d stumbled upon a bit of hidden treasure.
I could have stayed there all day, basking in sunshine, birdsong and the sweet spring breeze.
But what really bowled me over was that gorgeous pink stucco.
Instead of a historic shell, inhabited only by ghosts, that pink made the place feel very much alive.