Mission Santa Clara de Asis was established in 1777 as the 8th of California's 21 Spanish Missions. By 1779 flooding threatened the religious center, so it was temporarily moved to higher ground, then a permanent site was selected in 1781. The original church at this new site (actually the mission's the 3rd church) was built in 1784, but it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1818. A temporary church was used until 1825, then the mission's 5th church was built at the site of the present church. The bad luck continued, and this church was burned to the ground in 1926. The 6th and present church was completed in 1928, and it awaits certain devastation by whatever future disaster may occur; perhaps flood, earthquake, and fire were not strong enough indication that this is a poor place for a church.
Santa Clara University began operations in 1851 on the grounds of the mission, and was California's first college. The only structures remaining from the original mission are the partial wall and the attached Adobe Lodge. SCU has 5,000 undergraduate & 3,500 master's students, and is a private, Jesuit institution.
Spain created 21 missions, 3 pueblos (or towns located in LA, San Jose, & Santa Cruz), & 4 presidios (at San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey, & San Francisco) in California. The first mission--San Diego--was established in 1769 while the final mission at Sonoma was completed in 1823.
The missions were religious centers for the purpose of converting the native population to Christianity. The presidios' main function was a strategic military fortification and barracks, primarily to prevent competing colonial claims from Britain or Russia in California. The pueblos were designed as towns to provide food & other support to the military presidios. The last piece of the intricate colonial structure of the Spanish was the ranchos which consisted of some 800 private plots of land for farming.
This Mission built in 1777, is now part of Santa Clara university. The mission church is well preserved but the grounds have been remade by the university.