Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Mission San Juan Bautista
Mission San Juan Bautista circa 1847. The former barracks and armory building is the single story building with an attached tower at the center of the picture. This building was expanded and became the Plaza Hotel. (California State Parks)
The Mission San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist) was founded on 24 Jun 1797, by Father Fermin Lasuen, as the 15th of 21 Spanish missions founded in the Spanish colony and later Mexican province of Alta California. As with most of these remote Catholic missions, is also served as outpost of one of the four Presidios, in this case El Presidio Real de San Carlos de Monterrey (the Royal Presidio of Saint Charles of Monterey), now the US Army's Presidio of Monterey
As with most of the mission garrisons, it was manned by mounted soldiers known as Soldados de Cuera (Leather Jacketed Soldiers, so named for their locally produced long leather vest that protected their uniforms. Normally the garrison numbered six to ten soldiers under the command of a cabo (corporal). Their task was to protect the mission from Native Americans not incorparated into the mission system as well as assisting the church in keeping mission indians under control. After 1822, Alta California became a province of the newly formed Mexican Empire (after 1824, the Republic of Mexico). In 1831 all of the missions were secularized and all their lands were sold to private interests.
In the summer of 1844, Governor Manuel Micheltorena had all serviceable cannon, powder, and munitions moved inland from the Presidio de San Carlos de Monterey and El Castillo de Monterey for the long expected war between the United States and Mexico. Those armaments may have been abandoned there, for several cannon were later recovered by American troops at that site.
Today, the mission is an active Catholic parish church. The former barracks and armory, and later Plaza Hotel, is now a museum for the San Juan Bautista State Park.
The Plaza Hotel circa 6 November 2015. Portions of this building were originally the barracks and armory that date to the Spanish colonial period. Today it is a museum operated by California State Parks (Photo by SGM (CA) Dan Sebby, California Military Department)



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Updated 8 February 2016