Sunday, November 20, 2016

Distant Cousins

The portal of the 1797 Mission San Miguel Archangel, the 16th of  Padre Junipero Serra's 21 California Missions.

Famed San Francisco de Asis in Ranchos de Taos, NM built between 1772 and 1816. 

Like the Spanish Colonial churches of New Mexico, the Spanish missions of California intrigue me. Though they were built at the same time, the late 18th century to the early 19th, they are very different. Why should two Catholic churches built at virtually the same time be so dissimilar?

My first guess is that it’s because of native American or Pueblo design influences in New Mexico and Moorish ones in California. What's your take on this riddle?

The pitched tile roof of San Miguel.

The rear buttress of San Francisco or Ranchos Church.

Comparing San Miguel Archangel in San Miguel, California nine miles north of Paso Robles to San Francisco de Asis in Ranchos de Taos, NM the differences are stark. In San Miguel there’s a sprawling “mission style” layout and long portal or portico. It feels more evolved and finer. Not finer in the qualitative sense but finer as in finished. San Francisco is more muscular, organic and contained.

The materials used were the same, adobe and timber, but in California curved earthen adobe roof tiles called tejas were employed and the architectural lines are more angular and the stucco colors lighter compared to the mud tones of New Mexican iglesias.

Massive buttresses are a feature of colonial churches in New Mexico whereas slightly pitched tiled roofs typify the "Mission Style" in California.


Blacks Crossing said...

Although I have always loved your featured photograph of the Ranchos church, Steve, the last photograph of it on your blog is fresh and beautifully rendered. I love the sun on part of the buttress, and then the bell tower peaks out from the left center of the photo. Nicely done. Also, the stark white of the California mission is drama with a capital "D".

Great blog! Happy Thanksgiving!

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