San Miguel

San Miguel

Just north of Paso Robles, San Miguel is a small historic mission town of about 1500 people. Mission San Miguel de Archangel was founded in 1797 by Spanish Franciscans to convert the large number of Salinan Indians who lived in the area. The mission was named for “Most Glorious Saint of the Celestial Militia, Archangel Saint Michael.”

After Mexico secularized the California missions, Mission San Miguel was sold for $600 to William Reed who lived in it with his family and also used it as a store. After the Reed family was murdered in 1848, the mission became a sort of hotel, saloon and dance hall for miners on their way from Los Angeles to San Francisco and the gold country. It took President James Buchanan to return the mission to the church in 1859. It was eventually restored and the Franciscan order returned in 1928. The town of San Miguel, with its post office, paint store, Woolworth, blacksmith shop, and two saloons burned to the ground in the mid 1880’s and was completely rebuilt north of the mission.

The 2003 San Simeon Earthquake cause extensive damage to the mission. It didn’t reopen until 2009, when the church bells were rung and San Miguel’s parishioners were again able to return to worship.

The town of San Miguel celebrates its mission with a fiesta in September with a mariachi band, ballet folklorico dancers, an arts and crafts sale, and a raffle to raise money for mission restoration.