Monterey Path of History
Step into the past along Monterey’s Walking Path of History. Follow the Path of History to discover the magic of a rich and treasured history that mixes with the wonder and vibrancy of a city eager to meet the future. Monterey is a special place, which has maintained more of its rich and complex heritage than any other California city.
Walk along a sidewalk made of whalebone or see fine antique furnishings displayed in old adobe buildings. Stroll the same streets that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson ad he gathered impressions for his classic novel Treasure Island. And stand on the very spot where U.S. troops added 600,000 square miles of land to the United States.
The city of Monterey was first established in 1770 by Father Junípero Serra and Gaspar de Portolà, during their undertaking to link all of Alta California with Catholic missions. It was Portola who established the Presidio of Monterey, as Spain felt driven to defend Alta California against English or Russian invasion. Serving as the capital of California from 1777 to 1849, first under the flag of Spain and subsequently Mexico, Monterey became a hotbed of political machinations. This deep political connection can be readily seen in the names on plaques throughout the city and along the Path of History. [Top]
The Path of History. The Hotel Pacific is located right on the Path of History. Each of the most historically notable sites in Monterey are only a few steps away. Stop by the front desk for a self guided walking tour map. California State Parks offers guided tours. Call 831-649-7118 for current tour schedules. Monterey's Path of History connects over 50 of Monterey's historic buildings.
Download this free audio tour to your iPod, iPhone or other portable music device and learn all about the history, mysteries, legends and scandals of Old Monterey. [Top]
California's First Theatre. This old adobe is unique both for its architectural design and its history as a theater. Jack Swan, an English sailor of Scottish ancestry who settled in Monterey in 1843, built it as a saloon and apartment house. Its use and structure expanded significantly when Colonel John D. Stevenson's regiment, The New York Volunteers, disbanded at the close of the Mexican War. Stevenson persuaded Swan to convert the building into the Union Theater. Ninety years later the old building returned to its roots when, on Monterey's birthday, June 3, 1937, the Troupers of the Gold Coast revived the old time melodramas and continued to perform them on weekends through the year.
Merritt House Adobe. The Merritt family was influential in the political affairs of Monterey County in the second half of the 19th century. The adobe became their property in 1852 when the owner defaulted on a mortgage and Jauna Castro Merritt, wife of Josiah Merritt and daughter of the prominent Simeon Castro family, was its successful bidder. Josiah, a lawyer, came to Monterey in 1829 and, with statehood, became the first Monterey County Judge.
Casa Serrano Adobe. Construction of this graceful adobe was begun in 1845 by Thomas O. Larkin. It was sold unfinished to Florencio Serrano, who completed the house following his marriage to the daughter of Don Joaquin de la Torre. Casa Serrano has a special significance in California's early history because it served as one of the first schools after the U.S. Flag was flown over the Custom House in 1846. Florencio Serrano succeeded Walter Colton as the second alcalde of Monterey. He established a private school and taught Spanish. The Serrano family lived in the adobe at the same time it served as a school.
Colton Hall. California's first Constitution was drafted in Colton Hall in 1849, argued over and written by 48 deligates representing all of the state. The hall was built in the 1840s by, and named for, the Reverend Walter Colton who came to Monterey as a chaplain on one of Commodore Sloat's vessels and remained to become Monterey's first American Alcalde. In collaboration with Robert Semple, he published the first newspaper in California on August 15, 1846.
Custom House. In 1822, during California's Mexican era, the Monterey Custom House presided over Mexico's only port in Alta California. Foreign goods were taxed and traded here for hide, tallow, and other locally produced items. It was here that Commodore John Drake Sloat raised the American flag on July 7, 1846, claiming over 600,000 square miles of territory for the United States. The Custom House is California's first registered State Historic Landmark, and is the oldest public building on the west coast.
Old Whaling Station Adobe. Long known as the Old Whaling Station, this old adobe was built by David Wright, a Scotsman, as a private residence and modeled on his ancestral home. The exterior followed the two-story construction of Monterey at the time with the roof slanting to one-story at the rear, with the cantilevered balcony added after 1900. The structure acquired its name when it became a boardinghouse and headquarters for Portuguese whalers in the 1850s. A whalebone walk in front is a reminder of this past era in California.
House of the Four Winds Adobe. La Casa de Los Cuatro Vientos has been so called since the mid-1800s, because it was the first house with a weathervane on its hipped roof. Built about 1835, it was originally part of the large piece of property developed by Thomas O. Larkin. It also enjoys the distinction of having been the first Hall of Records for the newly formed County of Monterey.
Fremont Adobe. Although this two-story adobe is generally recognized as the headquarters of John C. Fremont, the memoirs of Fremont and Lt. William T. Sherman confirm that the title is a misnomer. Their notes show that when he came to Monterey, he encamped on a hill at the end of town. Actual ownership of the little adobe has been traced through several Monterey families. In 1861 it was sold by Antonio Maria Vasquez and his wife, Asuncion Boronda Vasquez, for $200. By the late 1800s it was the family home of Crisimo Castro, who came to Monterey during the Gold Rush.
San Carlos Cathedral. The San Carlos Cathedral is the oldest building on the Monterey Peninsula and the oldest church in continuous use in California. Its original designation was Royal Presidio Chapel, as it was used for worship by the Spanish Governors, representatives of the King of Spain. The existing San Carlos Cathedral is the fourth chapel to be built at the original Presidio of Monterey. The first two were pole and brush, while the third was adobe with stone foundations. The current building was completed in 1794 under the direction of Father Fermin de Lasuén. In 1961, the Cathedral was designated a Registered National historical Landmark.
Presidio of Monterey.
The Royal Presidio of San Carlos de Monterey is one of four presidios or military forts designed by engineer Miguel Costansó along the California coast. Other presidios were located at San Diego (1769), San Francisco (1776), and Santa Barbara (1782). On June 4, 1770, Costansó surveyed a level spot directly in front of the ship and perhaps two gunshots from the beach, near "an inlet which communicated with the bay at high water" (Lake El Estero). [Top]