Throughout its 210-year history, Mission Santa Inés has overcome natural disasters, political turmoil, and financial hardships to emerge as one of the most successful of the southern California Missions. The Mission has endured a rebellion, social upheaval, neglect, and decay only to rise again through restoration and repair as one of the hidden gems of the California Mission chain.
In order to acculturate the Chumash of the Santa Ynez valley into the Spanish way of life, and to serve as a link between the Missions of Santa Barbara and La Purisima Concepción in Lompoc, Mission Santa Inés was established in 1804. While still in its formative years, the Mission was devastated by the great earthquake of 1812. The Mission continued to rebuild and repair, and actually became very prosperous during the first part of the 19th century, when the Chumash population was at its highest. The Mission acreage produced plentiful harvests, and its livestock numbered in the thousands. Mission Santa Inés also became linked to one of the early Anglo settlers in California.
After Mexican Independence from Spain in 1821, secularization caused the departure of the Spanish Missionaries, most of the Chumash neophytes, and the decline of the Mission. During this period the first college seminary was temporarily established at Mission Santa Inés in 1844. The Mission would have fallen into complete ruin were it not for the arrival of the Donahue family in 1882 and Fr. Alexander Buckler in 1904. Fr. Buckler began the repair of the Mission building and enlisted the talents of his niece Mamie Goulet to restore the art and vestment collections left at the Mission. The Capuchin Franciscan Friars from Ireland arrived in 1924 after the retirement of Fr. Buckler. They continued the restoration of the Mission buildings, gardens, and established the Mission museum.
Today the parish continues to restore and preserve the "Mission of the Passes" to serve the greater community. Old Mission Santa Inés is proud and honored to be the guardian of a rich collection of paintings, statuary, vestments, manuscripts, and artifacts.