The mission was founded September 8, 1771 by Padres Pedro Benito Cambon and Angel Fernández de la Somera. The present church building was begun during the latter part of the 18th century and completed in the year 1800.


The Victorian house was built in 1887 for Reverend George Finley Bovard who later became the fourth president of the University of Southern California. Milton Scott Wilson purchased the house in 1893. He served as Justice of the Peace for the San Gabriel Township and many weddings took place n his parlor. In 1904. his daughter, Mary Leticia, married Edwin Hayes who helped organize the first San Gabriel City Council and the San Gabriel Union Church. Their daughter, Mary Ruth Hayes (1907-1990), was born in the house and lived there all her life. She was a teacher and administrator in the school district for more than forty years. She willed the home and its contents to the San Gabriel Historical Association. The home reflects the lives of one family in San Gabriel for nearly 100 years. The small stone milk house was used as a jail on weekends to hold revelers from local saloons until they could be taken to the Los Angeles County Jail on Monday morning. It was later moved to the Wilson-Hayes property.


Built in the early 1800s, La Casa de Lopez de Lowther was part of the San Gabriel Mission complex. Juan Lopez moved into the house in 1849, and members of his family occupied the home until 1964. La Casa de Lopez de Lowther is closed to the public.

• Architect: Arthur Burnett Benton

The Playhouse was constructed between 1923 and 1927 for John Steven McGroarty’s hugely successful Mission Play. The Mission Playhouse’s architect was Arthur Burnett Benton who designed the Playhouse in the Mission Revival style. The façade was designed to resemble McGroarty’s favorite mission, San Antonio de Padua in Monterey County. The 1,387 seat theater has Native American influences in its painted and carved ceiling. Replicas of Spanish lanterns used aboard galleons in the 1800s hang from the ceiling. Woven tapestries that were a gift from King Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1927 adorn the sides of the theater. The theater is home to a fully restored 1924 Wurlitzer pipe organ originally built for the Albee Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. After the run of The Mission Play, the Mission Playhouse was used as a movie theatre. During WWII, the Playhouse dressing rooms were turned into apartments. Since 1945, the Playhouse has been owned and operated by the City of San Gabriel. When the City purchased the Playhouse, they renamed it the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium. On September 26, 2007, the theatre was renamed and once again called the Mission Playhouse.


Ramona Parlor #109 is one of the hundreds of parlors throughout the state of California. It is a lively group that meets once a month on the second Thursday in the San Gabriel Grapevine Room on MIssion Drive. It is the only parlor that owns and operates its own California history museum. The Ramona Museum of California History is located in the heart of the San Gabriel Mission District and is open every Saturday from 12-3 pm. Tours may be arranged by appointment.


The site of the present City Hall was donated to the City in 1922 by Walter P. Te m p l e. His father, Francis Pliny Fiske Temple traveled by ship “ A round the Horn” to California in 1841 to join his brother who had opened the first mercantile store in Los Angeles. Francis later married Margarita Workman. Her father, William Workman, organized with James Rowland the first wagon train to Southern California over the Santa Fe Trail, arriving in 1841. The Temple – Workman families we re involved in much of the history and development of this area, including the founding of Temple City and donation of land for public use in many of the nearby towns. The millstone near the City Hall steps commemorates the Chapman Mill, built nearby in 1823 by Joseph Chapman, a New Englander captured first by pirates and then by the Spanish in California. His skill at building dams and mills was invaluable to the Fathers here and at other Missions.


“In this garden are found OLIVE TREES, seedlings from the olive grove which once produced oil for fueling the lamps. An orange tree, planted here in 1980 by the Claretians, represents the VALENCIA ORANGE GROVE planted here at the Mission by the Franciscans with cuttings from Spain, and was the first orange grove planted in all of California. Spanish fig, plum, peach, and pomegranate also flourished in those early days. In 1921, the STATUE OF JUNIPERO SERRA was erected to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mission’s founding. The “oldest” olive tree nearby was planted in the 1860s by Fr. Bot, as well as the “oldest” grapevine. Fr. Bot was one of the intermediate Padres from “El Pueblo to Los Angeles,” who cared the old mission from the time the last Franciscan left in 1852, until the Claretians arrived in 1908.”