Narrated by Russ Christoff
From 1775 to 1850, in the days before John Steinbeck and Robert Lewis Stevenson walked these streets, the seaport of Monterey was known as the Capital of California.
Many historic buildings from the mid to late 1800’s have been preserved here and are part of the two mile self-guided walking tour through the streets of old Monterey’s historic downtown area.
For those who enjoy antiques, arrangements for special guided tours through some interesting house interiors can be made at the Stanton House Center in the Custom House Plaza by Fisherman’s Wharf.
This is also a good location for obtaining a map of the walking tour.
During my visit, I toured a few of the buildings on the walking tour.
Colton Hall was my first stop. Run by the City of Monterey, this impressive building contains a museum and has been restored to look much as it did in 1849, when 48 California delegates gathered here to write the Constitution of California.
The Cooper Morera House, and National Trust Building is also available to tour.
In the garden and barnyard, visitors will find Navajo Sheep, Minorca Chickens and plants that were introduced to the Monterey area in the earlier days.
My guide Monica was available to answer questions.
What do you suggest for someone who is coming to visit Monterey?
GUIDE MONICA: That’s a very good question.
We have many buildings and gardens and we give walking tours, and we give house tours, and I would suggest spending a couple of days, and you can take it leisurely and have lunch in between and really enjoy that feeling of yesteryear.
RUSS CHRISTOFF: We’re here in the Cooper-Molera House, What can visitors expect to see when they visit?
GUIDE MONICA: You would see a wonderful time capsule of the family who started here, in the 1820’s during the Mexican portion of our history, and continued living here until 1864, when they moved to San Francisco and left all their possessions here.
So we have furniture dating back to the Spanish and Mexican era as well as going on into the more Victorian period, and that’s where we are up here.
RUSS CHRISTOFF: Now the Custom House has an interesting story behind it that I visited it yesterday.
GUIDE MONICA: It’s part of our historic park. We have a number of buildings that you can visit, but that’s probably our most important historically.
It’s a building built during our Mexican era to collect taxes. And the taxes collect right in the Custom House ran California under Mexican rule for about 24 years.
The cargo that you see in the Custom House is replica.
RUSS CHRISTOFF: But it’s typical of the era.
GUIDE MONICA: Exactly! The building is original but the cargo is all copies.
To me the miracle is that so much of it was preserved.
We have an enormous collection of historic buildings.
And, it gives people a window into the past. The come and say this is how grandma or great-grandmother lived. And they want to know their roots. And I think that’s why we actually preserve historic places today.