California Road Trip: Monterey State Historic Park


On our way back to the hotel after visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we took a look around a few of the buildings of the Monterey State Historic Park.  A little history lesson: Monterey was first established in 1770 by Father Junípero Serra and explorer Gaspar de Portolà.  Spain had begun colonizing Alta California, in 1769, and the San Carlos Borromeo Mission de Monterey followed a year later.  When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, Monterey came under Mexican rule.  I didn’t know it then, but Monterey was actually California’s earliest capital city (from 1777 to 1846 – under both Spain and Mexico) and the site of the state’s first constitutional convention.  Monterey changed hands again in 1846 during the Mexican-American War, and once it was in American hands, the capital was moved away from Monterey.

Pacific House Museum - Built 1847 - Adobe Architectural Style

Pacific House Museum – Built 1847 – Adobe Architectural Style

The Monterey State Historic Park consists of several buildings located throughout the downtown area, built at various times in the 1800s.  Most are only open on the weekends, so Jon and I didn’t get to tour the inside of any of them, but we were able to check out the outside of the Custom House, the Pacific House (which contains the museum) and the Cooper-Molera Adobe.  The Custom House is the first government building in California, built in 1827, and it is the First California Historic Landmark!

Monterey Custom House - Built 1827 - Adobe Architectural Style

Monterey Custom House – Built 1827 – Adobe Architectural Style

We were able to stop in at the Cooper-Molera Adobe garden and gift shop.  They have one room of the home open daily, so you can get a little of the feel of the home.  One of the outbuildings contains information on the families that lived there. This adobe was built in 1823 by Captain John Rogers Cooper, a New Englander who sailed to Monterey on a trading mission.  He met and married a member of one of California’s most well-connected Mexican families.  After John Rogers Cooper’s death, he left the home and property to his wife, and it was eventually passed down to Cooper’s granddaughter Frances Molera.

Upon Frances Molera’s death in 1968, the property was willed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who leases it to the California Park System.  It has been restored and furnished with period furnishings left by the family.  The room that we were able to visit contained several beautiful pieces from the late 19th century – it would be interesting to see the rest of the home!

Historic Barn at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

Historic Barn at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

Well at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

Well at the Cooper-Molera Adobe

At the Cooper-Molera Adobe (or the other Monterey SHP buildings when they are open) you can pick up a brochure detailing a walking tour around town showing the locations of the twelve buildings of the Monterey State Historic Park, as well as several other historic buildings (55 in all) in Monterey.  The route is about two miles, and there are little medallions embedded into the sidewalk that show the route.  Touring these homes and buildings will certainly be on my list for my next trip to Monterey!

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9 thoughts on “California Road Trip: Monterey State Historic Park

    • It was a beautiful barn – I thought it was a bit more photogenic than the house. If I could be there on a weekend when all the historic sites are open, I would love to have the opportunity to take a couple of days and go through all of them. It’s is a nice little idea, to have them all set out with a walking map, and Monterey is small enough that they are all really close together.

  1. Be glad you came when you did – it may not be open or available to tour the next time you visit. The local paper has reported that the National Trust for Historic Preservation is exploring “adaptive reuse” (current lingo for change) of the property including putting two restaurants on site: in the house and perhaps the barn also. Why? They need to create a sustainable “future” for the property because the state park can no longer continue paying upkeep for a site they do not own. But really … partnering with a developer? What part of “Preservation” does that come under??!!

    • Thank you for your post. The Alliance of Monterey Area Preservationists ishaving some success in battling against the commercialization of the Cooper Molera Adobe. Please check out http://www.amap1.org and let California State Parks know that they should continue to operate the adobe complex with local support. To be invited to our first fundraiser contact: nancy@nancyrunyon.com

  2. That’s really awful! I hope that the community can rally to get them to consider another plan. Honestly though, I’m not really surprised that sites feel that they have to go to such drastic measures – the population isn’t interested in our history anymore. We aren’t teaching our children to value these places. I can’t believe the number of times I have been all alone at a historic site. Sad…

    • Thank you for your post. 99% of the Monterey community agrees that the Cooper Molera Adobe becoming restaurants and shops would be damaging to our economy, our prestige as an historic city and Monterey State Historic Park and our school educational programs who learn to make adobe bricks, tortillas and ropes in the historic garden. As a 35 year member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation I am broken hearted that they would even consider the shopping center developers proposal. Please come and visit our unique adobe complex filled with family artifacts from the Mexican period in California to US Statehood and let California State Parks know that they should continue operating the property. info at http://www.amap1.org

  3. Pingback: California Road Trip: The Long Road Home | Wine and History Visited

  4. Pingback: Help Save the Cooper-Molera Adobe | Wine and History Visited

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