Old Mission Santa Inés is the nineteenth of the twenty-one California Missions established by Franciscan priests from 1769 to 1823. Since its founding, Old Mission Santa Inés has experienced many changes – sometimes tumultuous ones. Old Mission Santa Inés remains rich in tradition, legend, and history.
The Mission was founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estevan Tapis. It was named in honor of Saint Agnes, an early Christian martyr of the fourth century. The Spanish for Agnes is Inés, hence the name of the church. The American Yankee settlers anglicized the spelling of the Spanish pronunciation of Inés and named an adjoining town Santa Ynez.
In 1924 the Capuchin Franciscan Fathers from Ireland are assigned to Mission Santa Inés and began a massive renovation in 1947. They added the 2nd story to the convento which had been destroyed in the earthquake of 1812. They also created the museum, and began cataloging the art and artifacts discovered at the mission. The Capuchin Franciscans continue today to serve the needs of its parish members and the greater community.
The Mission commands a superb view of the Santa Ynez River Valley and the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountain ranges. It continues to be a central role in the spiritual and social life of the Santa Ynez Valley as an active parish church of approximately 1,000 families.