I am a big fan of old stereo photos. As a child I loved to look at View-Master reels, especially the ones with views of far away places. To look at these places through a 3D viewer gave me the impression that I was actually visiting the places. For a moment I was transported to a fascinating place, standing in the middle of a new landscape that I could almost touch.
This 3D view of the San Diego mission gives us an idea of the level of disrepair it was suffering during the early years of the twentieth century, before being restored in the 1930s. I came across it while searching the catalog of the U.S. Library of Congress, which contains a number of interesting images related to the Spanish missions in California. Some of these images date back decades and show them in various stages of deterioration.
Often when we visit the California missions it is difficult to take stock of the many hours of careful restoration that have gone into them, as well as the amount of attention it takes to preserve them with an eye to historical accuracy. You can visit the website of the California Missions Foundation to learn more about preservation efforts on the various missions.
Images such as the one above were meant to be viewed through a stereoscope like the one you see below. By looking through the two lenses a viewer would see both images overlapping, which would produce a 3 dimensional or “stereo” effect. Stereoscopes were very popular at during the second half of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, and were later replaced by the View-Master system during the middle of the last century.
I’ll keep posting any 3d views of missions or mission-era subjects. If you find any, feel free to send them my way or let me know through the comments box below.