Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mission Orchard House - Historical House Carmel-by-the-Sea California

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Mission Orchard House Property

Most of us have driven by this historical property on Rio Road, nestled between the Carmel Mission and Larson Baseball Field, but few have the opportunity to tour the grounds.

It has been open for special events in the past decade such as: the Carmel Heritage Society's Home and Garden Tour 2003, the California Mission alfresco dinner in 2013, marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Father Junipero Serra, and the inaugural Carmel Bach Festival House and Garden Tour in 2014.

There are two main houses on the property, one built of adobe and one of wood. The two structures (adobe left, wood right) are seen in the picture below.

It is a special place with quite a bit of history. In fact the adobe on this property is considered the oldest private residence in California.  Well at least one of the walls of this residence can claim to be almost 250 years old having been erected in 1772.

Carmel Mission
1770 - 1834

Pentecost Sunday, June 3, 1770 Blessed Father Junipero Serra said Mass and erected the cross that would establish the second mission in California, Mission San Carlos Borromeo (Carmel Mission).  The mission was originally located near the Monterey Presidio beside the Bay of Monterey. 

On August 24, 1771, Blessed Father Junipero Serra moved the mission from Monterey to its present site in Carmel. 

He began construction on the mission and an adobe wall that would surround the future mission orchard in 1772. 

Two years later, Fr. Palou planted a pear orchard within the adobe wall. Three of those pear trees still exist today. 

The picture, above shows the side of the orchard adobe wall that would have faced the Mission.  This is the present day adobe living room wall.  

In 1812 mission records show that a lean-to was built against the orchard adobe wall. This lean-to would have provided housing for the mission orchardist and caretaker.  The 1774 wall of the lean-to is the current north wall of the adobe living room.

1834 - 1859

On August 9, 1834, Mexican Governor Figueroa passed regulations secularizing mission lands.  If the regulations had been carried out as they were decreed, the Carmel Mission Native American's would have received portions of the mission lands. Though some were granted land, the majority of the mission lands went to Mexican families. (1)

Native American Juan Romero would come to own 160 acres which included the Carmel Mission, pear orchard and the adobe lean-to. (2)

By 1839 the rest of the land surrounding the mission, some 4,367 acres became the Mexican land grant called  Rancho Canada de la Sequnda, granted by Mexican Governor Jose Casto to Lazaro Soto. Lazaro Soto's grandfather came to California with the De Anza Expedition. Lazaro was married to Felicita Cantua and by 1849 he had sold his land grant for $500 to Andrew Randall.     

-  Back at the Mission, (it is not clear where Juan Romero was during his years of ownership), by 1846 squatters had begun to occupy the mission ruins and the adobe lean-to. One of the squatter families by the name of Cantua (possibly a relative of Felicita Cantua Soto) filed a claim with the U.S. Lands Commission for possession of the property. This was denied. 

In 1850 the squatters used whalebone vertebrae gathered from the beach and wood beams taken from the abandoned Carmel Mission to build a one story wood house next to the adobe lean-to. 

The two downstairs rooms of the wood house that exist today would have represented this structure.  

Though squatters were living on the property Juan Romero still owned the land.  In 1852 he would deed this property to William Curtis a Monterey store owner for $300. 

In 1856 Mr. Curtis sold the property to one of his clerks, Mr. Loveland.

In 1859 John Martin purchased the property from the Loveland’s and lived in the adobe lean-to.  Later that year, the United States Land Commission confirmed ownership of nine acres of the Martin purchase (the land surrounding the Carmel Mission) back to the Catholic Church. (3) John Martin moved his family into a ranch house he built on his property at Mission Ranch.

The picture below is the 1859 U.S. Government survey of land restored to the Catholic Church.  In the north east corner of the orchard two squatters houses are drawn. One being the adobe lean-to consisting of the living room and entry area of the current adobe and the other the two downstairs rooms of the current wood house.   

Back in Church Hands
1860 - Present 

May 27, 1861 -"We visited the old Mission of Carmelo…it is now a complete ruin; entirely desolate…we rode over a broken adobe wall into this court.  Hundreds (literally) of squirrels scampered around to their holes in the old walls…About half of the roof had fallen in…the paintings and inscriptions on the walls are mostly obliterated…The old garden was now a barley field, but there were many fine pear trees left, now full of young fruit.  Roses bloomed luxuriantly in the deserted places, and geraniums flourished as rank weeds. (4)  

Around 1870 Father Angelo Casanova would be appointed pastor of Carmel Mission.  He leased the orchard land to Christiano Machado, a whaler from the island of St. Michael's in the Azores.

Machado would serve as the mission caretaker and orchardist until 1920.  During that time he added extensively to the garden and the orchard.

In the garden a "ramada" for al fresco dining was built of adobe, along with an oven for baking. 

In 1881, Machado's brother-in-law, whaler Captain Victorine, (who built the whaler's cabin at Point Lobos which still stands) would add a second story to the wood squatters shack next to the adobe for the Machado's twenty-five children.

In 1921 Carmel Mission pastor Father Ramon Mestres would hire Jo Mora to restore the adobe house. 

The main entrance of the adobe was moved to the east side facing the entrance to the wood house.  

An entry room in the adobe led to the living area. The painting decorations on the interior walls were originally painted by Joe Mora.

Additional space was added to the living room to make room for a fireplace.  Mora hired stonemason Juan Martoral to build the large field-stone chimney, which would be built into an addition to the north wall of the living room.

The adobe still resembles the lean-to, with sloping roof off the north wall. (The room seen above off the living space to the west was added in the 1940's)

To make the ramada and gardens more accessible to guests, doors were added to the south elevation. 

In 1924 Father Mestres sold the restored house to three women.  One of these women was Eva DeSalba, the second mayor and first woman mayor of Carmel. 

These women opened the adobe as the Carmel Tea House, which became a popular Carmel spot for lunch and afternoon tea.  It closed in 1929.

In 1929 the Lloyd Pacheco Tevis Family purchased the property. They would further expand the existing buildings over their years of tenancy. 

The Trevis Family added separate living quarters for their butler and gardener toward the rear of the property,

as well as an art studio for Mrs. Tevis, 

and a billiard room for Mr. Tevis.

In the early 1940's the Tevis Family hired Sir Harry Downie, curator in charge of the Carmel Mission restoration, to expand the existing adobe home, with the aim of keeping it with its original character.
A new kitchen, 

dining room and butler's pantry

were added following 
the long axis of the building
opening to the gardens. 

These additions would double the size of the original adobe house.  Downie would also install one of the first water-circulated radiant heating systems in the country within a new concrete slab floor in the adobe.

In 1976 antique dealer Harry Lewis Scott purchased the property from the Trevis family.  Mr. Scott operated Keller & Scott Antiques in downtown Carmel.  At the time, his store was across from the Carmel Art Association on Dolores. 

Scott decorated the home and garden with museum worthy antiques and original painted designs found at the Santa Inez Mission. He also incorporated pieces of St. Patrick's Cathedral, damaged in the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989, into the garden.  

In the mid 1990's Mr. Scott sold the two and a half acre property, which had come to be known as "Mission Orchard House," back to the Monterey Diocese. Mr. Scott maintained a life estate in Mission Orchard House so that he could live the rest of his life on the property.

In 2003 he opened up his beautifully decorated property to the Carmel Heritage Society for their annual House and Garden Tour. 

Mr. Scott passed away in 2011 and Mission Orchard House passed to the Diocese of Monterey in October of that year. Currently the diocese is investigating what must be done to restore this important and historic property.  

Thanks for visiting.  Until next time, Happy Adventures!

For an interactive map and guided walking tour covering this and many of our other  tours please be sure to download the GPSmyCity App from the iTunes store.  The  App covers an extensive library of articles and walking tours from over 470 cities worldwide, and now features articles from  Adventures of a Home Town Tourist covering Carmel and Monterey (with more cities on the way).  Click the City Walks logo below to get your free App today. 

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(1)Randall Millken, Laurence H. Shoup, and Beverly R Ortiz, Ohlone/Costanoan Indians of the San Francisco Peninsula and their Neighbors, Yesterday and Today (Archaeological and Historical Consultants Oakland, California, 2009), p. 154,155,161,162.

(2) Helen Wilson, “The Mission Ranch – A Brief History,” The Herald Weekend Magazine, April 20, 1986.

(3) Martin J. Morgado, Serra's Legacy (Mount Carmel Publishing Pacific Grove, 1987), p. 113.

(4) Up and Down California in 1860 – 1864 – The Journal of William H. Brewer:  Book 1 Chapter 7 Salinas Valley and Monterey. 

Monterey Father Serra's Landing Place (Painting of first Mass Pentecost Sunday June 3, 1770) - Oil on canvas depiction by Leon Troussett 1877. 

All photos and video by L. A. Momboisse except those listed below:

- Black and white of adobe and wood house taken after 1921. (Kent Seavey, Images of America Carmel A History in Architecture, (Arcadia Publishing, 2007) p.17

- Black and white drawing of Carmel Mission c. 1794 by John Sykes (picture taken from wall in Carmel Mission courtyard).

- Picture of water color of Carmel Mission c. 1827 by Richard Beechey (picture taken from wall in Carmel Mission courtyard).

- 1859 U.S. government survey of land restored to the Catholic Church (Martin J. Morgado, Serra's Legacy (Mount Carmel Publishing Pacific Grove, 1987), p. 113).

- Two black and white photos from 1929 - the Mission Tea House inside and out.  Photos used with permission from Casa Q Events. Casa Q Events planned the dinner at Orchard House given in honor of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Father Junipero Serra. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Wildflower Hike to the Portola Crespi Cross - Carmel River Beach

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"The river too is quiet, except when the winter floods rage down the valley to battle the waves across the sand-bar, or surge out in a tremendous bore through new-cut channels. At most times it spreads out like a placid lake, and trickles into the adjoining water-meadows. Here among reeds and tough grasses the pools reflect every changing hue of sky and clouds, and the shadow of the hills lies darkly."
 (Una Jeffers describing the Carmel River Wetlands)

The historic Portola Crespi Cross is an easy one mile loop that can be reached from either the Carmel River Beach (Carmelo and Scenic)  or Carmel Meadows (Highway 1 and Ribera Road) see map.  

Today we hike from the Carmel River State Beach.  The first thing when making the hike from this side at this time of year, is to look southwest toward the highlands 

to see if the Carmel River has broken
through the sand bar.

If it has, care should be taken to make sure not to be trapped on the Crespi Cross side.  The picture below shows the river flowing to the ocean from the Carmel Meadows side in April of 2013. 

Though this does happen, 

Today this will not be a problem. With an unseasonably high temperature of 78 degrees, the entire town has descended upon the river side of the beach. 

 Our destination is the field 

of yellow beyond the beach and 

the Portola Crespi Cross.

On our hike we will first pass the Carmel River Lagoon and Wetlands, a protected sanctuary for migrating birds.  This lagoon is formed by the opposing forces of the Carmel River and the Pacific Ocean.  This force is also what causes the Carmel River to periodically break through the sand dunes, as shown in some of the earlier pictures.  

While the ocean currents continuously deposit sand on the beach, the lagoon rises and falls according to the seasons. During the summer and fall the lagoon waters are low, tule reeds visible two feet above the marshy wetland water.   (Below  the Mission Ranch is seen in the distance during the summer over the lagoon.)

After winter rains, in early spring the lagoon is high and the tule reeds barely visible with most of the beach on the lagoon side covered in water. Below a Mourning Dove observes the high waters of winter over the lagoon. 

Walk past the lagoon
 and scan the reeds for Mallards.

 By the shore watch for Sandpipers. 

In the distance on the sand bar,
look for the meeting of the gulls.

Today the gulls appear to have invited a couple of Caspian Terns noticeable in the back. 

At the end of the beach,
climb the stairs to the loop trail
 to the Portola Crespi Cross.
Which is still in the distance.

The trail is clearly marked and goes in a circle. During wildflower season this is a spectacular hike. Word of caution, stay on the path! 

 There is a lot of poison oak,
and the only way to be sure of avoiding it,
 is to stay on the path. 

Since moving to Monterey County two years ago I have taken advantage of the Let's Go Outdoors program a life long learning program for all ages.  It is here that I was introduced to the wonders of wildflowers (and numerous other things in the wild). Through the direction and knowledge of Michael Mitchell and Susan Hubbard the art of identifying the gazillion varieties of wildflowers became manageable.

Michael and Rod M. Yeager, MD, wrote Wildflowers of Garland Ranch - a field guide and manage an incredible web site Monterey County Wildflowers, Shrubs and Trees

Susan Hubbard, of the California Native Plant Society, lectured on the identification of wildflowers and their families. The information provided in this lecture made identifying flowers easier, by breaking everything down to the basics.  


The predominate flower on this hike is the yellow Field Mustard. There is an urban legend surrounding this plant.  It is said that Blessed Father Junipero Serra introduced the Field Mustard seed to California by scattering it as he walked from mission to mission.  As the years went by the seeds provided him with a "golden pathway" between missions. 

Mixed with the Field Mustard is the purple Wild Radish.  

Wild Radish and Field Mustard are both from the same family.  One of their distinguishing characteristics is that their four petals form the shape of a cross.

There are about 25 different forms of Lupine found in Monterey County.  I believe this one is Summer Lupine (don't hold me to that). Lupine's are a member of the pea family and they have flowers that look like Pac Man.

There were a whole gathering of Lupine
hanging out by the stairs and the
Angler Survey box. 

Besides the Pac Man shape flowers notice the palmate leaves. A palmate leaf is like a circle with leaflets growing out of the center. Remember it by thinking of the palm of your hand.

The next few wildflowers are a bit harder to spot.   So be on the lookout for Red-stemmed Filaree, a member of the geranium family.

Fun fact about the Filaree is their seed dispersal method.  The long seed heads in the picture will coil into a twisted tail; the seed at the end.  After the tail dries and falls to the ground it will act like a corkscrew, responding to wet or dry conditions, alternating between coiled and uncoiled, eventually planting the seed in the ground.  Amazing!

Don't overlook our state
 flower the California Poppy.

Or the Seaside Fiddleneck which
 gets its name from
 the curve in the neck of the flower.
Think of the neck of a Violin.

They also have distinctive leaves
with sharp hairs and bumps.

The Fiesta Flower was a common corsage for women of Early Monterey. On their way to the fandango, a gentleman would pick a flower from the Fiesta Flower plant and place it on his dates lapel. The small "hooks" on the stem and leaf would stick to the fabric, becoming one of the first corsages. 

The Morning Glory always reminds me of my sister, it is just a joyful flower. Morning Glory's varieties have different leaves.  This one is the Beach Morning Glory, you can tell because the leaf is kidney shaped.  

Sticky Monkey Flower
Who names these things?  
It is easily recognized by its bright orange
 tubular flowers that almost always are in pairs.

Beside wildflowers, be on the lookout for the large boulder which points the way to the Portola Crespi Cross. 

This cross is one of two crosses erected in 1769 by Captain Gasper de Portola and Father Juan Crespi. You may read more about the history here.   

From the location of the cross the view north 
over the Carmel River Wetlands is spectacular. 

When ready follow the path back down past 
a hillside of Seaside Coastal Paintbrush.

 The Coastal Paintbrush is from the
Broomrape family which can be parasitic.  
Parasitic or not, it is stunning in bloom!

If all goes according to plan you have
 made a full circle ending up back at the
top of the stairs to the Carmel River Beach. 

Until next time, get outdoors!

Photography - L. A. Momboisse -
Quote (Una Jeffers 1938 - From Jeffers Country, page 12)