Not far from King City, where Jimmy Ames grew up, is an interesting place to visit – Mission San Antonio de Padua – located on what is now Fort Hunter Liggett, an Army base created from a sprawling ranch sold by William Randolph Hearst to the War Department in 1940.
Before he built his “castle” on the coast, William Randolph Hearst built a house next to the Mission San Antonio de Padua in 1929 (originally called the Milpitas Ranch House). Designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, it was a working ranch, drawing inspiration from the nearby Spanish mission for its white stucco walls and Spanish-tiled roof. Hearst used the Hacienda as a hunting lodge, and he enjoyed it so much that even after he built his big house at nearby San Simeon, he built a private road for easy travel between the two properties.
After being acquired by the military, the “ranch house” was used as the officers club and base commander’s quarters, then mostly closed in the 1970s. When Fort Ord closed in 1992, Fort Hunter Liggett’s use diminished and the Hacienda was opened to the public. Besides the opportunity to stay overnight at Mr. Hearst’s house, the Hacienda’s Bar offers a place to relax, and the Hacienda Restaurant, where Hearst once entertained his famous friends such as Marion Davies, Dick Powell, Will Rogers, Jean Harlowe, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Herbert Hoover and Errol Flynn, serves good, inexpensive meals.
When you visit Fort Hunter Liggett, you will need to obtain a pass given out at the gate (unless you have a military ID). The forces in Iraq are stretched so thin, that local city police are manning the gates at Fort Hunter Liggett rather than the MPs. However, they are pleasant and should give you no hassle when obtaining your pass.
Oh, as an interesting by the way, the grounds of what are now Fort Hunter Liggett were the old stomping grounds of the notorious bandit Tiburcio Vasquez…
OK, now on to the Mission San Antonio de Padua…
A map of the various Missions established in California:
The exterior of the Mission San Antonio de Padua as it appears today:
I thought this was interesting – the first wedding on record in California:
These are some random pictures that I shot around the exterior of the Mission:
Definitely still an operating military base:
OK, on to the interior of the Mission San Antonio de Padua…
This is how the courtyard at the interior of the Mission appears as you first enter:
And the walkways that surround the courtyard:
Here are some more views of the courtyard garden:
The missionaries made sure they wouldn’t run short on the booze:
No self-respecting Mission should be without at least one cat. Fortunately, the Mission San Antonio de Padua does not disappoint in this area. Here is Olivia:
You know, taking the above pictures of booze and pussy into account… I’d actually start going to church if I knew there was ample free booze and pussy to be had – as at this Mission.
This is where the missionaries used to boil the natives that misbehaved. Actually, it was probably just used for preparing large meals, but my version is more exciting:
This is the interior of the church at the Mission San Antonio de Padua:
And this is Espresso who was inside the church:
My Aunt Babs savaged some poor woman that worked at the Mission (If you don’t believe me, just click on the first picture of the exterior of the Mission to bring it up to full size and check out Barbara’s body language as she is addressing the unfortunate woman) to determine that the cats were properly cared for. And, yes, the cats do appear to be decently taken care of. There are four cats in total, although one was pregnant (Babet is not pictured here), so there will soon be more.
I was impressed with the Mission San Antonio de Padua and enjoyed our visit there. Really, one should visit if nothing else than to allow it to serve as a reminder that there is a history to California and more here than the present of traffic, vile suburban developments and Wal-Marts we face all too often…