Mission San Francisco de la Espada
This was the first mission in Texas, founded in 1690 as San Francisco de los Tejas near present-day Weches, Texas. In 1731, the mission was transferred to the San Antonio River area and renamed Mission San Francisco de la Espada. A friary was built in 1745, and the church was completed in 1756.
Following government policy, Franciscan missionaries sought to make life within mission communities closely resemble that of Spanish villages and Spanish culture. In order to become Spanish citizens and productive inhabitants, Native Americans learned vocational skills. As plows, farm implements, and gear for horses, oxen, and mules fell into disrepair, blacksmithing skills soon became indispensable. Weaving skills were needed to help clothe the inhabitants. As buildings became more elaborate, mission occupants learned masonry and carpentry skills under the direction of craftsmen contracted by the missionaries.
After secularization, these vocational skills proved beneficial to post-colonial growth of San Antonio. The legacy of these Native American artisans is still evident throughout the city of San Antonio today.
The Loom at Mission EspadaWool from sheep raised at Rancho de las Cabras in the mission era would be washed, spun, and woven at the missions. Visitors can view a working loom in the Contact Station at Mission Espada. Visit Mission Espada on Tuesday afternoons to view live weaving demonstrations!
Espada Aqueduct & Acequia SystemJust north of Mission Espada is the Espada Aqueduct. The Espada Aqueduct was constructed in 1745 by Franciscans to serve Mission Espada and the surrounding area. The Espada Aqueduct brought water traveling in an acequia from the San Antonio River over a low elevation creek, to maintain the elevation and potential energy of the water. This potential energy would carry the water from its original exit point on the San Antonio River to the farmlands of Mission Espada. The acequia system at Mission Espada is the most complete and original acequia system at the park.
Last updated: June 6, 2019