“The chapel grew too small within a year from the time it was dedicated, Sunday, May 21, 1787. It was therefore enlarged in 1788, but by the year 1792 this, also, proved too small. Converts were coming in rapidly. The old structure was then taken down, and a magnificent edifice took its place in 1793. Its size was 25 by 125 feet. There were three small chapels on each side, like the two that are attached to the present church. An earthquake, which occurred on Monday, December 21, 1812, damaged this adobe building to such an extent that it had to be taken down. On its site rose the splendid structure, which is still the admiration of the traveler. Padre Antonio Ripoll superintended the work, which continued through five years, from 1815 to 1820. It was dedicated on the 10th of September, 1820. The walls, which are six feet thick, consist of irregular sandstone blocks, and are further strengthened by solid stone buttresses measuring nine by nine feet. The towers to a height of thirty feet are a solid mass of stone and cement twenty feet square. A narrow passage leads through one of these to the top, where the old bells still call the faithful to service as of yore. Doubtless the Santa Barbara Mission church is the most solid structure of its kind in California. It is 165 feet long, forty feet wide and thirty feet high on the outside. Like the monastery, the church is roofed with tiles which were manufactured at the Mission by the Indians.”
The report for 1800 is full of interest. It recounts the activity in building, tells of the death of Padre Paterna, who died in 1793, and was followed by Estevan Tapis (afterwards padre presidente), and says that 1237 natives have been baptized, and that the Mission now owns 2492 horses and cattle, and 5615 sheep. Sixty neophytes are engaged in weaving and allied tasks; the carpenter of the presidio is engaged at a dollar a day to teach the neophytes his trade; and a corporal is teaching them tanning at $150 a year.
In 1803 the population was the highest the Mission ever reached, with 1792. In May, 1808, a determined effort lasting nine days was made to rid the region of ground squirrels, and about a thousand were killed.
The earthquakes of 1812 alarmed the people and damaged the buildings at Santa Barbara as elsewhere. The sea was much disturbed, and new springs of asphaltum were formed, great cracks opened in the mountains, and the population fled all buildings and lived in the open air.