San Fernando Mission and Bob Hope Garden

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San Fernando Mission church exterior

I’m going to start with full disclosure:  the Mission San Fernando in Los Angeles doesn’t have much in the way of interesting gardens except for a recent addition: the Bob Hope Memorial Garden. Mostly the buildings are surrounded by green lawn and trees. There are, however, two very interesting museums.

The Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana has been restored by the archdiocese–essentially rebuilt from the ground up more than once.  Founded in 1797, it was expropriated by the Mexican government in 1834 and subsequently fell into ruin.

San Fernando Mission ruinsA photograph of the Mission San Fernando in the late 1800s.  Its condition became much worse when the tiles were removed from the roof.

Finally in the early 20th Century, the Mission was rebuilt and became one of several sub-headquarters for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Then in 1971, an earthquake damaged the Mission buildings severely and once again they were rebuilt.

Bob Hope memorial garden

Behind the Mission church you will come to the Bob Hope Memorial garden.  It is lovely and serene–a very contemporary garden.  Both Bob Hope and his wife are interred here.  The old Mission Cemetery is behind it.

The interior of the San Fernando Mission is clearly much grander than the San Gabriel Mission which is about a half hour away by car.  

Interior of San Fernando Mission church
The interior of the San Fernando parish church.

Rather than taking the sidewalk back from the gift shop entry to the church, enter the building on the left where you will find a series of museum rooms.

Franciscan monk robes
A recreation of the robes worn by the Franciscan fathers when the church was originally built.

In one is a case showing the clothing worn by the Franciscan friars at the time the Mission was founded.  In another room you will find a display of Bob Hope memorabilia.  In yet another room, a loom and other household items similar to the ones actually used in the Mission.

Bedroom in California 1800s
Among the gifts to the museum were pieces of furniture which have been assembled in this bedroom suitable for a visiting dignitary

And those rooms are just the beginning.  Even more interesting are the many displays in the Convent Building that give an impression of what life was like in the early 1800s in California.

You can see more of what is on display in the Covento museum.

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