The Mission San Miguel Arcangel, dating back to the late 18th century, is the first sight one sees when entering the dusty town off Highway 101 at the northern edge of San Luis Obispo County.
Behind the mission, however, is a newer building — not often noticed by visitors — known as the Parish Hall. The hall, built in the same Spanish adobe style as the mission, opened following a six-year period of heavy rebuilding and retrofitting at the complex to repair damage caused by the San Simeon Earthquake of 2003.
Parish hall manager Susan Velasquez became involved with the mission because of her husband, she said, but following the earthquake, she began to volunteer more and more time to help re-establish it. Then, when the Parish Hall opened in 2009, she was asked to act as the facility’s manager, Velasquez said.
As manager, Velasquez helps to organize the numerous special events that take place at the hall, which features a 2,775-square-foot banquet room and 7,400-square-foot patio, but her day-to-day duties vary as well, she said.
“I do some of everything,” she said. “Some tours; I work in the gift shop, do the advertising and PR. A little bit of everything.”
Velasquez, who has lived in San Miguel her entire life, said she couldn’t imagine herself anywhere else, despite the characteristic North County heat. During the summer, temperatures average in the 90s, with highs above 100 degrees not uncommon.
“It’s a quaint little town. I was born and raised here, and I wouldn’t really want to live anywhere else,” she said. “A lot of people say it’s too hot, but I love it. I’ve just always loved the area and never wanted to leave.”