In 1843 the management of the Mission was restored to the friars, but the former conditions of prosperity had passed away never to return. Two years later the estate was rented for $580 per year, and was finally sold in 1846 for $1700, although in later times the title was declared invalid. In the meantime an ecclesiastical college was opened at Santa Ines in 1844. A grant of land had been obtained from the government, and an assignment of $500 per year to the seminary on the condition that no Californian in search of a higher education should ever be excluded from its doors; but the project met with only a temporary success, and was abandoned after a brief existence of six years.
In 1844 Presidente Duran reported 264 neophytes at Santa Ines, with sufficient resources for their support. When Pico’s order of 1845 was issued, the Mission was valued at $20,288. This did not include the church, the curate’s house or rooms, and the rooms needed for the court-house. This inventory was taken without the co-operation of the padre, who refused to sign it. He—the padre—remained in charge until 1850, when the Mission was most probably abandoned.
At Santa Ines there were several workers in leather and silver whose reputation still remains. In various parts of the State are specimens of the saddles they made and carved and then inlaid in silver that are worthy a place in any noteworthy collection of artistic work.
Only ten arches remain at Santa Ines of the long line of corridor arches that once graced this building. In the distance is a pillar of one still standing alone. Between it and the last of the ten, eight others used to be, and beyond it there are the clear traces of three or four more.
The church floor is of red tiles. All the window arches are plain semicircles. Plain, rounded, heavy mouldings about three feet from the floor, and the same distance from the ceiling, extend around the inside of the church, making a simple and effective structural ornament.
The original altar is not now used. It is hidden behind the more pretentious modern one. It is of cement, or plastered adobe, built out, like a huge statue bracket, from the rear wall. The old tabernacle, ornate and florid, is still in use, though showing its century of service. There are also several interesting candlesticks, two of which are pictured in the chapter on woodwork.
Almost opposite the church entrance is a large reservoir, built of brick, twenty-one feet long and eight feet wide. It is at the bottom of a walled-in pit, with a sloping entrance to the reservoir proper, walls and slope being of burnt brick. This “sunk enclosure” is about sixty feet long and thirty feet across at the lower end, and about six feet below the level to the edge of the reservoir. Connected with this by a cement pipe or tunnel laid underground, over 660 feet long, is another reservoir over forty feet long, and eight feet wide, and nearly six feet deep. This was the reservoir which supplied the Indian village with water. The upper reservoir was for the use of the padres and also for bathing purposes.