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Keith Dotson | Catching Shadows

THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER KEITH DOTSON

Black and white photographs of Mission Espada in San Antonio, Texas

Black and white photographs of Mission Espada in San Antonio, Texas

Photographing Mission Espada, one of San Antonio’s historic old Spanish missions

San Antonio’s string of old Spanish missions, built by missionaries in the 1700s, are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Remarkably, some of these ancient buildings are still active Catholic chapels. Here, we are discussing Mission San Francisco de la Espada (Mission Espada).

Historic photographs of the Mission building

Historic 1902 photograph of Mission Espada, from San Antonio Conservation Society's Ernst Rabb collection.
Historic 1902 photograph of Mission Espada, from San Antonio Conservation Society’s Ernst Raba collection.
Historic postcard of Mission Espada in Sa n Antonio.
Historic postcard of Mission Espada in San Antonio.
8 x 10 photograph of Mission Espada by Ernst Wilhelm Raba (1874-1951) Creation Date Unknown.
8 x 10 photograph of Mission Espada by Ernst Wilhelm Raba (1874-1951) Creation Date Unknown. Photo courtesy of The Portal to Texas History

Not the Alamo

Probably every school kid in Texas visits at least one of San Antonio’s missions — the Alamo — which is one of the most famous and recognizable structures in the world. The Alamo receives 1.5 million visitors each year. It’s reported that a lot of the Alamo’s visitors exit underwhelmed because the site includes very little to give it historical context, and is surrounded by tacky tourist attractions. The other missions are less visited and less well known.

Mission Espada was founded in the 1690s, the second mission in what was then called New Spain. The mission relocated several times, due to droughts, disease outbreaks, and Native American hostilities. It was established on its current site in the 1730s, and the church was completed in 1756.

An interesting curiosity: Note the top-heavy arch over the front door. A mission caretaker told me that the people constructing the mission mistakenly placed the arch sections in the wrong order, stacking larger parts of the arch on top of smaller stones, creating a somewhat wonky appearance above the wooden doors. We can see in the 1902 photo (above) that the wooden doors are different than the current, beautifully carved doors. The caretaker said the current doors were probably added in the 1930s, when a restoration was performed to shore-up the structure, which had begun to show signs of failure.

Black and white photographs of Mission Espada in San Antonio

Fine black and white prints are available of the photographs below. Clicking the photographs will take you to my main website. Secure e-commerce provided by Shopify and Stripe.

Front Doors of Mission Espada in San Antonio, Texas. Click to buy a fine art print.
Front Doors of Mission Espada in San Antonio, Texas. Click to buy a fine art print.
Window of an Old Spanish Mission in San Antonio, Texas. Buy a fine art print of this photo here.
Window of an Old Spanish Mission in San Antonio, Texas. Buy a fine art print of this photo here.
Cloisters at Mission Espada, San Antonio
Cloisters at Mission Espada, San Antonio. Click to buy this photograph.

See these and a lot more black and white photographs on my main website here.


Watch a behind-the-scenes video of my visit to Mission Espada

Thanks for reading!

Be sure to visit me on FacebookYouTubePinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.

~ Keith

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