San José

San José

General Information

Founded:

June 11, 1797 - The 14th California Mission

Also Called:

The Mission of the Most Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph

Current Status:

This is an active Roman Catholic Church that is part of St. Joseph's Parish.

Summary:

San José was founded on June 11, 1797. This successful, prosperous mission was destroyed in an earthquake in 1869. The Mission San Jose church was carefully restored between 1982-1985 and is considered one of the most authentic mission structures in California. There is a gift shop and museum in the former padre’s quarters.

Address

43300 Mission Boulevard
Fremont, CA 94539
United States

Get Directions

Directions

The mission is located at 43300 Mission Boulevard (at the intersection with Washington Boulevard) in Fremont.

The mission, despite its name, is about twenty (20) miles north of the city center of San José. There was a pueblo (free-standing town) named San José de Guadalupe, which is sometimes confused with the mission.

Mission San José Sign After Restoration
Mission San José Sign After Restoration

Phone(s)

510-657-1797 - Mission Gift Shop

Fees, Hours, Tours and Church Services

Please contact the mission directly by telephone or by visiting the Public Tours page of the mission website for the most current tour information.

Visit the Mass Schedule page for the most current mass schedules and services.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, it is best to check for current information.

Weddings and Other Special Services

The Old Mission San José is a lovely and popular place to get married. If you are interested in holding your wedding at Mission San Jose, please contact St. Joseph Parish/Old Mission San Jose either by telephone at 510-656-2364 or visiting the Wedding and Baptisms section of the website.

The mission maintains records of Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, Marriages, and Deaths and will research an ancestor or relative for a modest fee. Requests have to be submitted in writing to Old Mission San José, P.O. Box 3159, Fremont, CA 94539.

Special Events

The mission holds several special events throughout the year. Check out the Event Calendar on the mission website for dates and events.

Concerts (primarily Chamber music) are held five or six times a year.

Unique Attractions

  • San José has an authentic and well-restored mission church (rebuilt in 1982). Its truncated tower holds four bells.
  • The church is a popular location for Weddings and Baptisms.
  • The restored padre's quarters now contain the gift shop and museum.
  • The museum has an interesting collection of maps, artifacts, and displays.
Mission San José Front View
Mission San José Front View
Mission San José Baptismal Ceremony
Mission San José Baptismal Ceremony
San José Restored Padre's Wing of the Mission
San José Restored Padre's Wing of the Mission
Ohlone Artifacts at Mission San José
Ohlone Artifacts at Mission San José

Other Historic Attractions

  • With an early start, it is possible to visit and explore Missions San José, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz in one full day.

Tips for Visitors

  • This mission was extensively researched before its very authentic restoration. Photograph it from across the street and on the side, where the giant buttresses that support the church walls are prominently visible.
  • There is a well-sited status of Junípero Serra on the mission ground. This is one of the statues sculpted by Dale Smith and placed all over California by the William H. Hannon Foundation.
Serra Statue at Mission San José
Serra Statue at Mission San José

Year Secularized

1834

Year Returned to Catholic Church

1858

Patron Saint (Named For)

Saint Joseph, husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Prominent Missionary Leaders

  • Founding Father President - Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuén
  • Founding Missionaries - Fr. Isidro Barcenilla and Fr. Agustin Merino
  • Prominent Missionary Leaders - Fr. Buenaventura and Fr. Narciso Durán were assigned to San José in 1806. These talented energetic missionaries worked together with the Indians for 27 years to build one of the most prosperous missions in California.
Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuén
Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuén
Fr. Narciso Durán With a Young Neophyte
Fr. Narciso Durán With a Young Neophyte

Indians Joining Mission

San José was founded in the land of the Costanoan people. Ohlone, one of the most prominent Coastanoan tribes is often used to refer to the natives of the San José and San Francisco de Asis missions. San José also recruited Indians from other groups including Miwok, Patwin, andNorthern Valley Yokuts.

In about 1806 Georg Heinrich von Landsdorf, an artist attached to a Russian Scientific Expedition, sketched an Ohlone Ceremonial Dance at San José Mission.

Ohlone Ceremonial Dance 1816
Ohlone Ceremonial Dance 1816

Mission Site

In Fremont, 15 miles northeast of the pueblo (and current city) of San José.

Mission Layout

The layout was more of a rectangle than the traditional quadrangle.

Water Source

Alameda Creek was the mission's main source of water.

Population

The highest mission population was 1,886 in 1831.

Livestock

San José was the agricultural and livestock powerhouse among the northern missions. The initial cattle were provided by Santa Clara. In 1832, the last year for which we have records, the mission had a sizable herd of cattle (12,000), sheep (11,000), and horses (1,100), placing its livestock herd in the upper 25% of all the missions.

Mission San José Cattle Brand
Mission San José Cattle Brand

Agricultural Output

Mission San José, which was well-managed and located in an area with rich soil, had the second highest agricultural production of the 21 missions with approximately 289,000 bushels of grain and produce. Its production of barley, corn, beans, and vegetables often exceeded the amount grown by any other mission during these years.

San José had extensive olive and fruit tree orchards. There was also a large vineyard near the mission quadrangle. San José rapidly became known for the quality of its olive oil, fruit, and produce.

Mission Church

The San José Mission was destroyed in an earthquake in 1868. An old daguerreotype taken in c. 1853 shows how the mission looked before its destruction.

An authentic restoration of the mission church was completed between 1982-1985.

Mission San José c. 1853
Mission San José c. 1853
Mission San José Front View
Mission San José Front View

Mission Bells

The bell tower is quite truncated but contains four original bells.

Mission Art and Artifacts

The restored padre's wing is now a museum.

San José Restored Padre's Wing of the Mission
San José Restored Padre's Wing of the Mission

Significant Events

Estanislao, a San José neophyte, led a large scale Indian uprising in 1828-1829. Several military expeditions were required to put down the revolt. Stanislaus County is named after Estanislao.

San José Mission Statue of Estanislao
San José Mission Statue of Estanislao

Interesting Facts

  • The nearby pueblo de San José de Guadalupe was established in 1777 as an agricultural settlement for provisioning the presidio garrisons at San Carlos de Monterey and San Francisco.
  • A devastating epidemic of smallpox and measles took a terrible toll on the neophytes (over 150 died) between 1805 and 1806.
  • The mission was renowned for its orchestra and choir, developed and led by Fr. Narciso Durán.
  • Mexican Franciscans from the Colegio de Zacatecas replaced the Spanish Franciscans at Mission San José in 1833.
San José Mission Band Led by Fr. Narciso Durán
San José Mission Band Led by Fr. Narciso Durán

For Additional Information

  • Holmes, P. (1977). Two Centuries at Mission San Jose, 1797-1997.
  • Oral History Associates. (1989). City of Fremont, The First Thirty Years: History Of Growth.
  • Margaret, A. (1999). Mission San José. (Power Kids Press series on the Missions of California).