The festival began as a four-day concert series at the Sunset School Auditorium and the Carmel Mission. Now in its 77th Season, the Carmel Bach Festival features over 75 performances and free community events at 12 locations around Monterey Peninsula.
This year the Carmel Bach Festival held their inaugural Carmel Bach Festival Home and Garden Tour in May, featuring three gardens and three homes in the Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Point area. Many sites offered live classical music performed by musicians from the Festival's Young Musician Concert. Our first stop, Mission Orchard House.
Mission Orchard House
3100 Rio Road
Many of us pass the Mission Orchard House daily while driving along Rio Road, but few have the opportunity to go behind the gate to visit the extraordinary casita garden and view what is considered the oldest residential dwelling in California.
There are two main houses on the property, one built of adobe and one of wood. The two structures, c. 1929, (adobe left, wood right) are seen in the picture below.
Though this property has a facinating history, this post will concentrate on the structures and garden in their present state.
Just inside the gate stands a very old cork oak tree. A native of Western Europe, namely Spain and Portugal, this oak may have been planted by Fr. Palou at the same time he planted the pear orchard next to the mission in 1774.
The cork oak forms a thick bark that may be harvested every 9 to 12 years. The harvesting does not hurt the trees, some of which can live for up to 250 years.
The adobe wall shown in the picture above was part of the original orchard wall built in 1774 to surround Fr. Palou's pear orchard. Today this wall is the north wall of the adobe living room, giving this adobe casita the distinction of being considered the oldest residential dwelling in California.
In 1812 mission records show that a lean-to was built against the orchard adobe wall to provide housing for the mission orchardist and caretaker.
Over the years the lean-to would grow to double its original size.
In 1921 Carmel Mission pastor Father Ramon Mestres hired Jo Mora to restore the adobe house.
Joe Mora's paintings decorate the walls.
Mora hired stonemason Juan Martoral to build the large field-stone chimney into an addition to the north wall of the living room.
In the 1920's the adobe house would be opened as a tea house by Carmel's second mayor and first female mayor, Eva DeSalba.
Adjacent to the adobe,
the second house on the property, the pink wood structure, was originally built by squatters beginning in 1850.
Legend claimed that the house was built on piers of whalebone vertebrae. In 1996 when the house was restored, this was proved to be true.
As I walked the gardens, the tranquil sounds of the cello, played by high school freshman Robert Percell, filled the air.
The various owners of this property have added to the gardens over the years. An uneven brick walkway leads past a ramada for al fresco dinning.
The gardens are overflowing with flora in every direction.
bird of paradise.
Variety of roses,
flowering aloe vera,
and prickly pear cactus.
In 1976, antique dealer Harry Lewis Scott purchased the property and decorated the home and garden with museum worthy antiques.
He even 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 property which had come to be known as “Mission Orchard House,” to the Monterey Diocese. He maintained a life estate on the property and after his passing in 2011, the Mission Orchard House property became part of the Diocese of Monterey. The Diocese is currently investigating what must be done to preserve and restore this important piece of our history.
25091 Hatton Road
Her creative touch appears throughout. From wine bottle oil lamps which illuminate the property at night,
to the large spirit nest, a memorial to the homes previous owner, Brenda's love of whimsy is everywhere.
As I tour the garden, recorded mandolin music of Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg accompany my walk. Enjoy this video of Le Papillon gardens.
Part 3 Rivermouth and Winton Garden
All photos and video by L. A. Momboisse www.carmelbytheseaca.blogspot.com 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 photo from 1929 - the Mission Tea House. Photo 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.