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Electronic 'Magic' Will Make Mission San José Look Like It Did 300 Years Ago

Mission San Jose Restored by Light
City of San Antonio
Office of Historic Preservation
Mission San Jose Restored by Light

An event this Friday night, Sept. 10, will allow those who come to see an iconic San Antonio building in a whole new light. The city-sponsored event is called Restored By Light, and at its core is a reality that a lot of San Antonians don’t know about.

Shanon Miller, Director of the city’s Office of Historic Preservation says the city’s Spanish Missions once looked very different than they now do.

“Historically the Missions were kind of elaborately painted, and they were colorful, and that has been lost to the years,” she said. “But one way that the community can experience what they used to look like is by using projection technology. And so that’s why we call it ‘Restored By Light.’”

That projection technology allows the colorful designs and frescoes that once adorned the missions to be projected onto them. They have held other Restored By Light events at other missions, but this one is at Mission San José at 701 E. Pyron Ave.

Mission San Jose Restored by Light
City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation
Mission San Jose Restored by Light

“I think people are always a little surprised by it when they see it for the first time especially, and it’s such a neat experience to be able to kind of imagine how amazing that would’ve looked 300 years ago,” Miller said.

The event is free and family friendly, and Miller said there will be more than just the re-imagined frescoes to delight those who come.

“It begins at about 6 o’clock (p.m.) There’s going to be food trucks and there will be performances by the parks department’s ballet folklorico dance program, and other types of activities for children,” she said. “At dark, the projections start. And it really shows the frescoes on the façade of the missions as they would’ve looked.”

COVID-19 protocols will be in place for those attending. 

“Because it is a National Parks Service property, masks are required to access the site, and of course there’s plenty of space for social distancing throughout the evening,” she said.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii