Among the well over 100,000 photographic images in the collection of the Gledhill Library at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, the Santa Barbara Mission is well represented. From the earliest days of photography in this area photographers, amateur and professional, have been drawn to the South Coast’s most recognizable landmark. For some 160 years the Mission has been portrayed on prints, on 35 millimeter slides, on stereographs, and in postcards and these images have been rendered in black and white, in color, sepia, and in the vibrant blue shadings of cyanotypes.
The cache of Mission photographs at the Gledhill captures not only the buildings and grounds and the changes they have undergone over time, but also comprise a visual document of the life of the Franciscan community there as well as the role the Mission has played in the larger Santa Barbara community. Please enjoy this selection of images of the “Queen of the Missions.”
This 1943 photograph was taken by the local husband and wife team of H. Edgerton and Florence McAllister. The planes are from the Marine Corps. Air Base in Goleta. The Marines were stationed at the airport and the present-day campus of UC Santa Barbara during the war.
King Albert, Queen Elizabeth and Crown Prince Leopold toured the Mission as part of their visit in 1919. Among the other activities partaken by the royals while here was a motorcycle trip to Summerland by Leopold, a ride in a Loughead airplane by Albert and Elizabeth and a visit to the Flying A movie studio.
President William McKinley on left, visited Santa Barbara in May 1901 and was given a tour of the Mission. He would be assassinated four months later.
The early Mission community would not have survived without the labor of the local Native Americans, the Chumash. The arrival of the colonists and the diseases they brought with them decimated the Chumash population. This photo dates from the early 1880s.
Many padres at the Mission were skilled artisans. The building behind this stonemason is St. Anthony’s Seminary which came down in the 1925 earthquake and was then rebuilt.
Life at the Mission was a popular topic for postcard publishers as demonstrated in this 1898 card. This card was made in Germany which was known for the high quality of its product.