In 1769, the Portola Expedition passed through the area that is now Santa Cruz. The first mission of Santa Cruz, dedicated in 1791, consisted of a group of wood and thatch buildings constructed adjacent to the San Lorenzo River. This site proved to be vulnerable to flooding so the mission was moved to higher ground atop Mission Hill Bluff. In 1784, the chapel was dedicated. Holy Cross Church occupies its former site. Following abandonment after secularization, and a series of earthquakes, the old church building collapsed in 1857. The present Holy Cross Church was constructed 1884-1887. It is the focal point of the Mission Hill Area Historic District. After the turn of the century, the area evolved into a primarily residential district. The Neary-Rodriguez Adobe (1791), remains from the Spanish era.
The Mission Hill Area District is roughly bounded by State Hwy. 56, Mora St., N. Pacific Ave. and Cross and Chestnut sts. in Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, which lies within the Mission Hill Area District at 144 School Street, is open Thursday-Sunday, 10:00am to 4:00pm and closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year Day. There is no fee. Please call 831 429-2850 or visit their website for more information.