Department of the Interior

For Immediate Release:
April 10, 2006
Contact: Shane Wolfe

Acting Secretary of the Interior P. Lynn Scarlett Announces the Designation of Mission San Miguel Archangel as National Historic Landmark

WASHINGTON DC— Acting Secretary of the Interior P. Lynn Scarlett today announced the designation of Mission San Miguel Archangel, located in San Miguel, California, as a National Historic Landmark.

"I have visited this one-of-a-kind Mission, which still displays the frescos done by local Native Americans nearly 200 years ago," Scarlett said. "Mission San Miguel gives great insight into the past while remaining an active parish for the parishioners and public to appreciate."

The National Historic Landmark designation is the highest such recognition accorded by our nation to historic properties. Mission San Miguel represents a fine example of Franciscan mission architecture, which later inspired the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Rival architecture that continues to characterize the Southwest United States to this day. Districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States in history, architecture, archeology, technology, and culture qualify for historic landmark designation. Fewer than 2,500 historic places across the United States carry the title of National Historic Landmark.

The site of the mission was chosen in 1797 as one of twenty-one missions throughout California. By 1808, tiles and adobe blocks were made and stored until the stone foundation of the church was laid in 1816. After the challenges of bringing in roofing timbers from mountains located 40 miles away, the structure was completed in 1818. By 1821, the entire church was complete, along with the interior murals.

The missions founded throughout California mark place names and important transportation routes such as U.S. 101 that are still used today. Compared with the other few remaining missions, Mission San Miguel retains a high level of physical integrity. Perhaps one of the greatest impacts of the chain of missions in California was in the area of agriculture. San Miguel, with its rural setting and remaining components, is important in demonstrating the holistic nature of a mission community as a residential and economic institution as well as a religious establishment.

Additional information on the National Historic Landmark program can be found on the National Park Service website at