San Juan Bautista was founded on June 24, 1797 by father Fermin Lasuen. It was named after john the Baptist. It is located 17 miles north of the city of Salinas in the town of San Juan Bautista, 4 miles off U. S. highway 101.
The church was destroyed in an earthquake in 1803. The people were sad. They were sad because they had a plan to make it better. Father Arroyo was the first person to make a dictionary for native Americans. It was painted by Thomas Doak. He was a sailor from Boston. He jumped off the ship in Monterey.
San Juan Bautista is the largest mission church in California at 188 ft. and, 72 ft. wide and 40 ft. high. Inside the massive carved entrance doors on the old red tile floor you can see 180-year old animal paw prints, probably left by some wandering pets before the tiles dried.
It also has a cat door in one of the side doors from a time when cats kept mice away. Originally, bells hung from a wooden crossbar in the courtyard and the church had no bell tower. A wooden tower was added in the 1860s and it was later duplicated in concrete. The tower made it easy to ring the church bells comfortably in any weather.The mission population was growing so quickly, when the church was destroyed by the earthquake in 1803 they already had plans to build larger church.
Most of the churches were long and narrow with a single center aisle but this one was to be wide enough for three aisles. Before the church was complete the padres were concerned that such a large structure would be unsafe in an earthquake. They thought that the open- arched walls separating the two sides aisles were separating the two sides aisles were not strong enough to support the large tile roof.Father Arroyo had many talents he was able to preach to native Americans in seven in their dialects. He was later joined by father Tapis who was retired there after serving nine years. Today the missions at San Juan Bautista is part of a state historic park.
It includes a hotel, stable and two adobe mansions, all original buildings over 100 years old. Mission San Juan Bautista is located on the San Andreas fault. This mission was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo.