The Lodi Mission Arch celebrated the harvest of the Tokay grape and is one of the few (if not only) ceremonial arches built in the Mission Revival style still standing today. The arch, which stands stands 40 feet tall and 80 feet wide, was constructed in 1907, just a year after Lodi was formally incorporated as a city in the San Joaquin valley.
The arch marked the entrance to the town’s first grape harvest festival, then known as the Tokay Carnival. The festival was a way to promote the area’s main agricultural resource: the Tokay grape. An estimated 30,000 people visited Lodi to attend the 3 day festival, pretty impressive considering only about 2,000 people lived in the new city. Not long before, local farmers had decided to stop focusing on watermelon crops after the market had bottomed out in the 1890s. The replacement crop ended up being grapes, which thrived in the sandy soil and brisk evening temperatures. Grapes from Lodi were soon contributing to 25% of the grapes in California. Formerly the “Watermelon Capital of the World,” Lodi was soon calling itself the “Tokay Capital of the World” until it was more recently re-christened as the “Zinfandel Capital of the World”
The arch was designed by E.B. Brown in the Mission Revival style of architecture, which was widely popular in California from about 1890 – 1915. Mission Revival was strongly influenced by the historical Spanish missions found throughout California and featured white stucco walls with minimal decorative elements aside from arches, clay tile roofs, and bell towers. Mission Revival was especially popular with the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads, which both built numerous stations in the style, many of which still stand today.