Mission San José de los Nazonis was established in 1716 in the woods of East Texas to serve the Nazonis Indians. This mission did not succeed, and on March 5, 1731, the mission and anything transportable was moved to its present location on the east bank of the San Antonio River. It then was renamed San Juan Capistrano.
San Juan was a self-sustaining community, and the Indians attentively farmed the land surrounding the mission and traded their goods east to Lousiana and Mexico. Sickness, Apache and Comanche attacks and political upheaval plagued the mission. Even with a declining Indian population, the mission was able to stave off the attacks and epidemics thanks to a strong economy.
By 1762, 203 Indians inhabited this mission which included a granary, irrigation system, textile shops, and houses. In 1772, construction of a larger church was started, but the lack of Indian population by this time left it uncompleted. Construction halted in 1786.
Today, visitors can walk the grounds, and visit the small church.
Originally established as San Jose de los Nazonis in east Texas, Mission San Juan Capistrano was moved to its permanent home on the east bank of the San Antonio River in 1731. San Juan was a regional supplier of agricultural produce with the orchards and gardens providing peaches, melons, pumpkins, grapes and peppers. The irrigated fields produced corn, beans, sweet potatoes, squash and even sugar cane. The mission also had large herds of as many as 3500 sheep and cattle.
Founded in 1731 it became a regional supplier of produce for the missions and nearby settlements. It's located on an area of rich farm and pasturelands where they grew fruits and vegetables and raised cattle and sheep. The chapel is still in use. There is also a self-guided nature trail.
Mission San Juan was definitely the eeriest of the missions. I'm sure it was the lack or people, seeing as this mission is not one of the top sights. And perhaps it's because it's a few miles from the main traffic of San Antonio and quiet. But, it probably gave me the creeps even more after reading the plaque by the entrance that reads it as a "sacred buriel sight" used by the Native Americans on the land before the Spanish friars built the mission.
A bit of history from the website:
"Originally founded in 1716 in eastern Texas, Mission San Juan was transferred in 1731 to its present location. In 1756, the stone church, a friary, and a granary were completed. A larger church was begun, but was abandoned when half complete, the result of population decline.
San Juan was a self-sustaining community. Within the compound, Indian artisans produced iron tools, cloth, and prepared hides. Orchards and gardens outside the walls provided melons, pumpkins, grapes, and peppers. Beyond the mission complex Indian farmers cultivated maize (corn), beans, squash, sweet potatoes, and sugar cane in irrigated fields. These products helped support not only the San Antonio missions, but also the local settlements and presidial garrisons in the area. By the mid 1700s, San Juan, with its rich farm and pasturelands, was a regional supplier of agricultural produce. With its surplus, San Juan established a trade network stretching east to Louisiana and south to Coahuila, Mexico. This thriving economy helped the mission to survive epidemics and Indian attacks in its final years."
There is no longer a wall that surrounds the complex. It appears to be very flat area with a sidewalk around the grounds. The signs ask visitors to "respect" the grounds and stay on the sidewalk. When I visited there were no rangers or anyone available, although there was a car outside the priest's living quarters. The church did not appear to be open and there was no tour or sign available. Because I felt a bit uneasy I didn't go inside to view the chapel, you never know where danger lurks...
The mission itself was very picturesque. I enjoyed my photographs and walk around the grounds. I would just recommend going when there's more than your own car in the parking lot or perhaps with a friend or travelling companion.
Park Hours 9am-5pm and FREE to tour.
Cell phone tours are available here, since there is no ranger on site.
Mission San Juan is the 4th Mission on the Mission Trail.
Missions Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan and Espada continue to be active parishes of the Catholic Church. All are open to the public.