The city is named after the nearby La Lomita mission ( SM39) founded by the Oblate Order. The religious order sold seventeen thousand acres of its ranchlands in 1908 to midwesterners John T. Conway and James W. Hoit, who developed Mission and built a network of irrigation canals to water surrounding citrus fields. Following Conway, John Shary, citrus promoter extraordinaire, positioned Mission to reap long-term economic rewards from citri-culture, especially grapefruit, enabling the city to entice newcomers.
The architectural growth of Mission is intimately tied to the bungalow, and to a focused vision that saw the community as a transplanted piece of Southern California on the Rio Grande based on Shary's travels there to study its real estate and agricultural development. Mission's early growth essentially took place within the plat of 1908 that divided the city into nearly equal quadrants. Similar to other Valley towns along U.S. 83, the east–west industrial–rail corridor groups together associated agricultural enterprises: freight stations, warehouses, and processing plants. The rail corridor also ensured the social order, as it physically divided the town into Hispanic and Anglo-American sectors south and north of the tracks, respectively.
Hit by a series of freezes in the late 1940s and 1950s, the citrus fields, and Mission's economic mainstay, dwindled rapidly. As a result, the city's most distinctive architectural period extends from the 1920s to the 1930s, the time when citrus was king.
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