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Authentic Mission Era Features At Mission San Luis Rey Part I

Construction of the present mission church began in 1811 and was completed in 1815.The design is cruciform with the dimensions measuring 30' high, 165' long and 27' wide.The solitary bell tower, which is the cornerstone to the entire mission quadrangle, is 75' high.Adobe, lime plaster, wooden timbers, fired clay bricks, and roof tiles comprise the primary building materials.The architecture is spanish colonial combining baroque and classical styles with moorish influences.Present - the church, a national historic landmark, is open daily to visitors via the museum, which oversees its restoration and the care of its collections.Although painted over through the years, the decorative designs, taken from textiles and patterns in books, are original.The church at san luis rey is recognized as the most unique and one of the most beautiful in the mission chain.It is the largest of the 21 california missions and the only one adorned with a wooden dome and cupola.Unique also to san luis rey are the side altars and the madonna chapel which originally served as a mortuary chapel.Lavanderia to the south of the mission is the lavanderia, or open-air laundry.This shallow valley beyond the mission plaza proved ideal as both a bathing site and a place to wash clothes.Additionally, the structure provided a means of channeling the water into the missions gardens and fields for irrigation.Water from the san luis rey river was diverted to the site.Flowing down from both sides of the tiled stairway, water spouted from the mouths of carved gargoyles.An extensive water conservation system by even modern standards, the lavanderia was surrounded by an adobe wall and entered through an arched and pillared gateway.A turnstile kept wildlife out.Present - in 1955 the first organized archaeological work was begun by seminary students under the direction of the staff at san luis rey college and visiting historians and archaeologists.The site was registered at the archaeological survey office at the university of california at los angeles (ucla) and given the permanent trinomial designation sdi241.Highway construction projects and housing developments have since leveled hills and the valley has undergone many changes including the diversion of the san luis rey river.Visitors can still explore the lavanderia by going down the main staircase to the tile and stone pools, and the magnificent gargoyles.The original brick and lime kiln used in mission construction can be seen to the east.Cemetery the cemetery has been in continuous use since the founding of the mission in 1798.The indian memorial was erected in 1830 by father antonio peyri to honor the many luisenos who helped build and maintain the mission; including those who lived in outlying areas such as pala, the asistencia or sub-station, to mission san luis rey.Also buried here are many of the area's leading catholic pioneers and priests.Present - the cemetery continues to be the oldest burial ground in north san diego county still in operation.The franciscan crypts house the remains of many of the friars who have served this mission, while recent expansion makes it possible for area residents of all faiths to be buried here.The skull and crossbones above the cemetery entrance is commonly found at franciscan cemeteries.In the 1950s, walt disney studio replaced the cemetery gates for the filming of several television episodes of "zorro" at san luis rey.Quadrangle the mission quadrangle is a four-sided patio approximately 500' square surrounded by buildings and arcades.In this courtyard the first pepper trees in alta california were planted by fr.Antonio peyri using seeds brought to san luis rey in 1830 by a sailor from peru.The buildings included workshops, living quarters, a kitchen, infirmary, winery and storage areas.Present - one of the first pepper trees still stands in this quadrangle and can be seen through the original carriage arch.The patio of the quadrangle looks different today due to the building of a smaller, inner quadrangle and convento after 1892 when the franciscans returned to san luis rey.Called the o'keefe building and sacred garden, the smaller quadrangle is the center of the current friary.The larger area, now a retreat center, was built for a seminary college in 1950 on the foundations of the original quadrangle.

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