The image shows the mission in a state of disrepair, with plaster coming off the sides. I thought this might help me build a timeline of events at this mission.
But then I came across another image at The Portal to Texas History: This images caption states Mission Dolores about 1833 A few discrepancies make me believe this is an artist's rendering for a post card, and the date is just wrong.
Then I find a site with numerous images of the Dolores Mission, OpenSFHistory.org , and see this image: Note the handwritten caption on the photo saying Mission Dolores 1870. So much for simplifying a timeline of this structure.
Eventually, focusing on the year 1856, which seems most plausible to me, I come across another image (cited as OpenSFHistory / wnp71.0172.jpg) which seems to give the same 1856 date (in a printed caption this time) Besides apparently confirming the 1856 date, this page is providing source information:
Carleton Watkins (Martin Behrman Negative Collection / Courtesy of the Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives)
Thinking my troubles done, I include the photographers name (Carelton Watkins) in my searches, and find a site dedicated to photographs by the photographer The Photographs of Carleton Watkins, and it contains what must be the original, which shows much more sky and background than any of the others: But when I think the desired date will be apparent here, I find the following in the information below the image (emphasis mine):
- Date Photographed: 1878-1883
- Catalog: Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs, cat. no. 749
- Notes: CMP notes: Likely a wet-plate copy of an earlier image (daguerreotype, ambrotype, or salt print). If so, this image was taken well before 1860 (see Palmquist, From Babies to Landscapes, 1856-1858 in Daguerreian Annual (1991): pp. 227-246)
Lastly, the photography site shows a connection to J Paul Getty Museum.(This seems to be the exact image as the above, so I won't repeat it here), The information below the image, is as follows (emphasis mine):
Date: negative before 1861; print possibly 1880s
So, that is my research, finding dates for (mostly) the same image claiming 1833, 1856, 1870, 1856 again, 1878-1883 or 'well before 1860', and finally 'before 1861'.
The Wikipedia page for the photographer indicates he was in San Francisco after 1851, but may not have started his photography business until 1858. Other research on this topic indicate that clapboard siding appeared on this church 'in the 1850s', so dates later then that are probably incorrect (verifying the exact date when this was installed may help narrow the date of the photo down). The 1833 post card has obvious differences, and the lack of photographic equipment in the 1830s means we can probably discount that date as well.
So what is the correct, exact date (year is adequate)? What year was the above image of the Mission San Francisco de Asís from?