San Miguel Old Bell Tower (2009)

This campanile (bell tower) at Mission San Miguel Arcángel looks old, but it was actually built in the 1930s. The Mission originally did not have a campanile, but it did have a large bell that hung from a wooden beam. The largest of the three bells in this tower was made in the late 19th century. It was cast from metal salvaged from broken bells that once rang at various California missions.

The reinterpretation and recycling as exemplified by this campanile is a pervasive characteristic of California missions. Rather than detracting from the “authenticity” of the missions, it has effectively become an important aspect of their historical significance.

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