Page last updated: November 17, 2021

All glass plate photographs by Harold A. Taylor. Digital images copyright © 2021 by Pinyon Publishing. No reproduction without permission.

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Historic Glass Plate Photography

        by Harold A. Taylor

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[Caption Information]

San Gabriel Bells (806a, 6.5”x8.5”)

San Gabriel Bells (807, 8”x10”)

In Harold Taylor’s photographs of the campanario, we can see that two bells are missing that were later replaced (they appear once again in photographs from the 1960s or earlier). Of the remaining bells in Taylor’s photograph, as seen from standing on the street looking toward the mission:


Center row, center bell: Cast around 1828 in Medford, Mass by Major G. H. Holbrook (who learned the craft from Paul Revere) and thought to have been traded to the mission for hides and tallow.


Middle Row, (right) side bell: This undated bell that rings out a B-natural note is thought to be cast in 1795 in Mexico City by Paul Ruelas and thus one of the oldest bells in California. An inscription on the bell (translated from the Latin) reads “Hail Mary Most Pure. St. Francis. Paul Ruelas Made Me.”


Bottom left (largest): This large bell weighing at least a ton has rung the Angelus, a Catholic call to prayer, for nearly two centuries (dates to 1830). It could originally be heard in the Pueblo of Los Angeles eight miles away.

Bottom right: Another Mexican Ruelas bell cast in 1795. Given to the mission by the king of Spain at the request of Father Serra.


San Gabriel Bells (806b, 6.5”x8.5”)

San Gabriel Profile (804a, 6.5”x8.5”)

San Gabriel Profile (804b, 6.5”x8.5”)

San Gabriel Profile (246, 5”x7”)

San Gabriel Profile (805, 8”x10”)

San Gabriel End of Building (809, 6.5”x8.5”)

San Gabriel End of Building (810, 6.5”x8.5”)

San Gabriel Stairway (808, 8”x10”)

San Gabriel Stairway (803, 6.5”x8.5”)

Flaking plaster on the simple stairways reveals a stone base topped with bricks.


San Gabriel Bell (811a, 6.5”x8.5”)

San Gabriel Bell (811b, 6.5”x8.5”)

San Gabriel Interior (801, 6.5”x8.5”)

Located on the now sidewalked palm-treed city streets of San Gabriel, nine miles east of downtown L.A., this mission displays the unusual architecture of a side wall façade, Moorish capped buttresses, and long narrow windows. Historians trace these features to architecture of the cathedral of Cordova, Spain.


The mission produced fine wines, soap, weaving, leather work, corn, beans, and cattle.