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June 8, 2004 > Mission San Jose Celebrates Founder's Day

Mission San Jose Celebrates Founder's Day

by Reshma Yunus

On Sunday June 13, 2004, the Committee for Restoration of the Mission San Jose will be celebrating the founding of the Mission with a Founders Day picnic. The event will include a Mariachi Mass at 12:00 noon, Piñata games for the children, a walking tour of historical Mission San Jose District and many other fun activities for the whole family. Mission San Jose, named after Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, was founded on June 11, 1797 by Father Fermin Lasuen, Presidente of the California Missions Chain. Mission San Jose was the 14th of the 21 mission chain in Alta California.

Mission San Jose was originally built by the local Ohlone Indians. On October 21, 1868, an earthquake destroyed the mission. A small wood church was built in its place and was used for over a 100 years. In 1973, the Committee for Restoration of the Mission San Jose was founded to take on the challenge of reconstructing the original Mission San Jose complex. The Committee, in collaboration with the Diocese of Oakland, raised sufficient funds to accomplish Phase I, the reconstruction of the original 1809 adobe church. The project cost $5 million and was completed in 1985. The church, considered a "near perfect" replica, was rededicated on June 11, 1985, the 188th anniversary of the founding of Mission San Jose.

According to Dolores Ferenz, Mission Administrator, the Committee then focused on completing Phase II. Originally, Phase II's primary goal was to rebuild the missing portion between the church and the present day museum. The museum, which once housed the padres, is the only remaining original adobe building from over 200 adobe buildings which once made up Mission San Jose complex. The focus changed to seismic retrofit of the Mission Museum when the State of California and the City of Fremont passed seismic retrofit laws. Without compliance with these new laws, the Mission Museum would have been closed to the public, Ms. Ferenzes said.

The cost to complete Phase II was estimated at $1 million, however only about $400,000 had been raised through community fund raising efforts, Ms. Ferenzes said. Finally, Assemblyman John Dutra stepped in and helped the Committee obtain a $1 million grant from the State of California so the work could proceed before the 5 year deadline expired. "A new roof, heating, and electrical system were included as part of the work on the historic building which had been through two prior restorations - 1915 and 1950," she said.

Ms. Ferenzes added, "As soon as the retrofit project was complete in 2002, the Committee set its goal to raise funds to complete Phase III which is now the missing piece between the church and museum. A subcommittee of historians, architect, contractor, engineers, and interested local people are working on a plan for the use of the space to be built." Ms. Laura Diaz, Project Manager for the restoration work, stated that, "costs for Phase III have not yet been established." She further added, "It is vital that we preserve this historic period, the good and the bad, for our children, so we can learn from and appreciate our past to improve our future."

Mission San Jose, according to Dolores Ferenz, brings in over 60,000 visitors to Fremont and an additional 10,000 Fourth Graders studying California Missions as part of their curriculum. She told TCV that for over 25 years the Committee had sponsored a two day festival called "Mission Days" to raise funds for its projects. Now the Committee has restructured the event to a one day event titled "Founder's Day" to celebrate the anniversary of the Mission's founding.

For further information about Mission San Jose's Founder's day celebration you can contact Nancie Allen - 510-364-2139

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