California Missions: Mission San Jose

San Jose Mission in Fremont

The quest to visit all 21 California Missions continues with Mission San Jose in Fremont. This one is only 35 minutes from our apartment, so the kids and I made a special trip on Saturday morning.

Visit Mission San Jose in Fremont CA

The original Mission church was built in 1809 but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1868. In 1985 the replacement, designed just as the church had originally stood, was complete. The earthquake spared the west wing, so when you start your tour in the museum, you will be standing in an original building.

Mission Museum

The museum itself is excellent, although small, and includes examples of how the Ohlone Indians lived at the time the Mission was founded as well as how the Spanish missionaries lived.

San Jose Mission Model
Checking out the model of the Mission.
Timeline from Columbus to current.
Ohlone Life
Display of life for the Ohlone Indians.
Spanish Missionary Room
A room displaying the type of room the Spanish missionaries would have stayed in.
Pew Rent Display
“Reserved seating” is such a funny thing that still exists in churches today, it’s just more of an understanding. I had no idea people used to pay rent!


Mission Courtyard

After we finished in the museum, we exited through the gift shop to the courtyard. The court yard was a good size but fairly sparse in plants and decorations. There is a nice fountain in the middle and beyond the fence you can see the rolling mountains.

Large succulent
You can see in the background of this picture that half of the courtyard is just rocks with no plantings.
View from the courtyard
View from the courtyard.


Fountain in the middle of the courtyard.


Mission Chapel

Passing through the courtyard you enter the church half way between the front doors and the pulpit. Looking straight ahead the first thing you notice is that the side balcony is beautifully painted as well as the columns that run the length of the church. I found this chapel more beautiful then San Francisco’s Mission simply because the wall and ceiling are so simple that the colors of the altar and the organ really stand out and make a statement.

The kids and I had a big talk about being quiet and respectful in the church, but we had it all to ourselves on a Saturday morning!

Painted balcony and columns
Even the cloth draped behind the crucifix is painted on.
Mission San Juan Chapel
I like to think of my daughter as a distracted church goer in this picture.
Colorful Organ
The painted organ in the choir loft.

Mission Graveyard

I am one of those people who does not appreciate graveyards. I generally find them boring and this one was no exception. However, it did have one fascinating detail that I loved. Above the door to reenter the church there was a skull and cross bones described as being a tribute to the mostly unmarked graves of the native people and original Spaniards.

Door from graveyard to church
The plague just outside this photo reads, “The bodies of hundred of our predecessors from the mission period, Native Americans, Mexicans, & Spaniards alike, rest here. In that time, graves were marked with small wooden crosses, if marked at all. Thus, the skull & crossbones over this door proclaimed this area as the cemetery. Many Native Americans who lived at the mission wished to follow their custom of being buried at their home villages. For those from the nearby village Oroyson, the missionaries honored that wish by blessing the formed village site as a cemetery. Title to that site was returned to the Ohlones by Floyd L. Begin, Bishop of Oakland, in 1965. Here, later immigrants added new layers of graves to the old. Please visit our holy ground with reverence.”

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