In 1720, Fray Antonio Margil de Jesús founded what became the best known of the Texas Missions, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo. Viewed as a model of Mission organization, Mission San José was a major social center. The unique architecture of its church and the richness of its fields and pastures led visitors to comment on its beauty. The size of the complex bears witness to San José’s reputation as the “Queen of the Missions.”
Mission San José was moved twice from its original site until it was finally built at its present location, set back from the temperamental river to a place on a small rise. At this time, it entered into a period of great achievement. Mission San José became the showplace of the Southwest.
The present church of Mission San José was begun in 1758 with the cornerstone laid by Governor Don Hugo Oconor and Gaspar José Solis, a Franciscan inspector. It was not completed until 1782 but became “the most beautiful church along the entire frontier of New Spain.