In 1834, when the Mexico government secularized all of the Franciscan missions in California, the buildings and vast land holdings were turned over to civilian authority. Subsequent owners used the La Purisima Mission for farming and cattle ranching until 1933 when the last owner, Union Oil Company, gave the property to Santa Barbara County who transferred it to the state. The buildings were in ruins. The adobe walls had eroded after the hand made clay roof tiles were removed for reuse on other buildings.
Rebuilding the mission was a perfect project for a New Deal work-relief program benefiting the young men of the CCC. Over the course of seven years the mission was painstakingly restored using the same construction techniques as the original builders. Ten buildings are now furnished as they would have been in the 1820s. Living quarters for the padres, a small garrison of soldiers, and the Native American who were worked and received religious instruction at the mission are represented. Workshops are furnished with the appropriate tools. Portions of the gardens and barnyard have been restored. Tours of the mission are self guided with guided tours offered once a day – Wednesday to Sunday. Special events with costumed interpreters are held throughout the year. The visitor center has two short videos and very well done interpretive displays about the history of the mission and the restoration.
The visitor center is accessed by a long, sloped, hard packed dirt path. The center is accessible. The paths to the mission buildings are hard packed dirt and fairly accessible. Loner wheelchairs with balloon tires are available at the visitor center. The mission chapel has a wheelchair ramp but none of the other buildings are accessible. All of the doorways have a step up and then a step down to access the rooms. It is possible to peek into the interiors and see some of the exhibits.