100+ year old photos show historic Mission San Jose in San Antonio

‘Queen of the Missions’ can be seen as far back as the 1870s

Photograph shows the interior of the sacristy at the time it was being used as a chapel. Circa 1889-1891. (UTSA Special Collections)

SAN ANTONIO – Mission San Jose is one of five Spanish Colonial missions in San Antonio that make up the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.

Mission San Jose is the largest of the five missions and, according to the National Park Service, it’s just over 300 years old.

The historic building is known as the queen of the missions and at its height, was home to roughly 350 Native Americans.

According to the NPS, portions of the mission underwent restoration in the 1920s and 30s and the mission was designated a historic site in 1941.

“Much of what is visible today at Mission San José was reconstructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s,” NPS officials said. “About 80% of the church is original.”

Here is a look back at the history of the mission via photos from the UTSA Library Special Digital Collection:

Photograph shows a stereographic view of the second floor of the convento at Mission San Jose y San Miguel. Man standing near remains of wooden flooring. Circa 1875. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows a stereographic view of the first floor of the convento at Mission San Jose y San Miguel. Man leaning against arch is not identified. Circa 1875. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows looking southwest towards ruins of Mission San Jose. Taken after collapse of roof and north wall of church. Circa 1877. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows the interior of the sacristy at the time it was being used as a chapel. Circa 1889-1891. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows unidentified woman and man pose outside Rose Window at Mission San Jose. Circa 1900-1910. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows automobile (hood not visible) parked outside church (upper part of facade visible) at Mission San Jose. Florence Harris Herff (far left) next to husband, John B. Herff, Jr., and their daughter, Carolyn Kampmann Herff (b. 1904)" Driver is Frank, employed by Eda Kampmann. Others not identified. Circa 1907-1908. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows exterior of Mission San Jose. West (front) elevation of church. Circa 1902-1904. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows a commercially produced halftone postcard, from photograph, of south elevation of Mission San Jose. Side of church and convento visible. Circa 1910-1920. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows a postcard view of the facade of Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo prior to restoration. Circa 1920s. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows Mission San Jose after the collapse of the bell tower on the night of March 8, 1928. San Antonio Archbishop Arthur J. Drossaerts (top) and Corpus Christi Bishop E. B. Ledvina stand in the rubble at the foot of the tower. (UTSA Special Collections)
Photograph shows exterior of church at Mission San Jose. Shows bell tower that was reconstructed after original collapsed in March 1928. Circa 1930. (UTSA Special Collections)

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.