UPDATE: It is important to remember that while California Missions have been hailed as places of peace, they also have deep and complicated histories, including slavery, violence, and forced religious conversion. I recommend reading this article that further describes the problematic history of Mission San Gabriel.
I love me a twofer – and that is exactly what I got this weekend with Mission San Gabriel Arcángel. First, I enjoy visiting California’s gorgeous missions, and want to make it to all of them. Second, I love me a filming location, especially when it’s from my favorite TV show, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
The fourth of California’s 21 missions, Mission San Gabriel was founded in 1771, however was moved to its current location in 1775. The cemetery on site is also the oldest in Los Angeles County, it is also the resting place of over 6,000 Native Americans.
The whole time we were roaming, I was basking in the knowledge that an episode of Brisco was filmed here. And like with most filming locations, I get pretty giddy, especially with Brisco, since there is so little left. Laramie Street, the western portion of the Warner Brothers backlot was used extensively in the show, was bulldozed shortly after the show was cancelled. Brisco used other areas of Warner Brothers’ backlot, which I saw briefly during our Warner Brothers studio tour awhile back, but it is always nice to find these other filming locations. In the episode “Deep in the Heart of Dixie” Dixie Cousins, Brisco’s love interest, is hunted by a villain by the name of Winston Smiles, because she possesses a wax cylinder that has an incriminating conversation between a politician and Smiles’ outlaw boss recorded on it. Dixie runs away to try to stay alive, but Brisco is sent after her, as both she and the cylinder are needed for evidence in court. This episode contains one of my favorite pop culture references – as Brisco is told “She headed south to Pasadena” and Brisco responds with “Probably dressed like a little old lady,” a reference to Jan and Dean’s hit “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena.” Once Brisco finds Dixie, she confides in him that she hid the cylinder at the Los Gatos Mission (yes, as it in “the cats”). Soon, they team up with their friend Lord Bowler, and when they arrive at the mission, Dixie tells Brisco and Lord Bowler, of her childhood and how she came to arrive at the mission. But soon Smiles and his cronies arrive, and the three outwit them in disguises of nun and monk attire. Dixie retrieves the cylinder from the kitchen where she hid it. The room used in the show as the kitchen is in fact the actual location of the original kitchen for the mission, however it was impossible to photograph in!
I love that they say Dixie was headed to Pasadena, and Mission San Gabriel is pretty much right next door to Pasadena. Also, in typical TV fashion, when the trio enter with the nun, they are actually entering from the baptismal, which has no exit to the outside.
Mission San Gabriel, located at 428 S Mission Drive in San Gabriel, is open for self-guided tours, however it is still an active church, and is used often for ceremonies, so please keep that in mind if you decide to visit. Visit their website for further details.
July 2020 UPDATE: On July 13 Mission San Gabriel suffered from a fire, read more from KTLA.
Dress: Decades, Salt Lake City, Utah
Turquoise Jewelry: Here and there…
Shoes: Olvera Street, Los Angeles, California
Tooled Leather Purse: Buffalo Exchange