The Mission Olive Mill

Built around 1880 at the request of the Mission Pastor, Father Mut, the Olive Mill site has long been a standing feature in the front gardens of the Mission and an educational tool for many of our guests. 

Olive Mill

The Mill consists of two pillars and a central circular well area for crushing the olives and is illustrative of the importance of olive production to the Mission and of how olive juice is extracted. 

A February 2010 photo of the Olive Mill site,
which is located next to the Soldiers Barracks


It became evident in the late spring of 2010 that the pillars to the Olive Mill were beginning to lean and by the fall of 2010 the degree of tilt for both pillars had increased significantly.

Inspection of the Mill

Inspection of the Mill site indicated the tilting was caused by uneven settling of the ground as a result of water draining direct below the pillars and the collapse of decaying roots from a pepper tree removed several years earlier.  It was clear the Olive Mill was dangerously close to falling over. 

An October 2010, photo of the Olive Mill site shows the severity of the tilting in the pillars.


To prevent this important site feature from collapsing, action was taken by the Preservation and Facilities departments with the installation of wooden bracing system to arrest further tilting.  Afterwards, staff added topsoil to promote water drainage away from the site.  All work was carried out according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation standards, which are always a governing principal for all preservation work conducted at the Mission.

Tilting in the Pillars

At this time, the Mission lacks the funds required to further landscape and conserve the Olive Mill. Until the soil subsidence can be mitigated through landscaping the wooden bracing will remain in place. To learn more on how you can support this and other preservation projects, please contact Mission San Juan Capistrano at (949) 234-1323 or click here.

An October 2010, photo of the Olive Mill site shows the severity of the tilting in the pillars.