The 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake: Santa Barbara Mission

"The writer was in the choir loft of the church, when on June 29, 1925, the earth began to rock. Beginning with a thump that seemed to come from a subterranean explosion, the earthquake shook those mighty walls and made them sway, as it appeared, several feet beyond the perpendicular. The noise was deafening. Subsiding for what seemed a brief second, the rocking began anew with greater violence, so that I expected to see the building crumble any moment. Only after this second shock had ceased and after having called to the people below to remain in the church till the earthquake had ceased did I try the door. It required four attempts on the part of a young friar and myself before we succeeded in forcing the door, which was jammed by the heavy stone lintel.

"Taking with us the others who happened to be in the organ loft (two aged brothers), we entered the second story of the monastery section of the mission. We could not see an inch for dust and soon found ourselves picking our way over piles of rock that had fallen from the tower through the roof. While we were debating which way to make our escape from the building, one of the old brothers got ahead of us and soon I hear from him a moan and cry of distress. I advanced and began groping for him in the dark, when suddenly I felt myself sinking and landed in a dark hole into which the brother had fallen before me.

"After a vain attempt to regain the floor-level above us, we discovered that we were in the curios room on the first floor and soon made our way out of the building under the front archway. Scarcely had we reached the open air, when the earth again began to rock and we had to run from falling stones that dropped from the towers. The congregation, about twenty in number, had already left the church and was safe."

-The Reverend Augustine Hobrecht, O.F.M., from the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 15, p. 251-254, 1925.


The broken bell tower of the Mission (39 kb)
The Mission before the earthquake (23 kb)
View #1 of the Mission after the earthquake (34 kb)
View #2 of the Mission after the earthquake (25 kb)

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