A walk through the mission

The mission’s gardens, church, and statues all help to attract visitors.

The front of Mission SLO de Tolosa.

The cross standing upright on the roof of the mission casts a shadow on the courtyard below. Even on a cloudy day, there are a few people wandering around in the gardens and inside the church.

Around the corner from the front door of the mission, there is a small fountain and lawn.

The front of the church is barred by large grey doors. Around the corner, a small fountain and yard is hidden. Restoration of the mission began in 1934, eventually leading to only one square block of the original structure being left standing. The original wooden floors, steeple, and sidings have all been removed.  

Grizzly bear fountain featured at the front of the mission.

The larger fountain in the front is frequented by the public more in warmer weather. This fountain holds bronze sculptures of grizzly bears. The bears are there to represent a hunt by the Spanish colonizers in the area that nearly wiped them out. SFGate interviewed Cal Poly professor Dan Krieger, who said, although there is no exact account for how many grizzlies were killed, “that one hunt nearly wiped them out in this region.”

A view of a SLO restaurant from the bridge over the SLO creek.

Directly across from the front doors of the church, there is a bridge leading over the SLO creek to some restaurants. This creates a walkway from the main street downtown, Higuera, right to the mission’s doors. Outdoor seating for some of these restaurants faces the mission’s gardens.

Art inside of the church.

Inside of the church, there are no original decorations. The pattern on the back wall is similar to what was there, but not the same. The wood interior was added to the church but also removed in the restoration, and the statues that line the walls are early mission-era but not the original art.

A man sitting in front of the altar inside of the church.

Directly behind the front doors is an aisle leading through the pews to the altar. Natural light streams in from high windows on both sides of the narrow room. There was faint singing from a choir in a room off of the main part of the church. The only people inside the church was an older man praying at the very front of the chapel.

A man walking down the aisle in the church.

The mission draws many visitors with its gardens and church that brings you back in time.

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