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Monterey's Own Adobes

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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 381
Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:11 pm    Post subject: Monterey's Own Adobes Reply with quote

THE City of Monterey has recently acquired two interesting adobes—the Stokes-Underwood (Brown) adobe, adjoining Colton Hall Park; and the charming old French Consulate, for a considerable time going a-begging. And thereby hang two tales. Aye, and a cheer.

The Stokes-Underwood adobe was acquired in 1931, under the leadership of William George Hudson, while mayor of the Old Capital. A new deal for the old town as an entity, in the mater of adobes. "Down with them!" had been the town-cry since Progress rode into town on the cow-catcher of the engine, in the early 80s. The first recognition of Monterey's richest asset by official Monterey.

The Stokes-Underwood adobe dates from 1843, three years before the American conquest. A copy of its abstract is of interest. In part, it says:

"The source of title to the lands within the City of Monterey are originally from the Mexican government. By general law, each city or pueblo was given by the Mexican government four leagues of land. This land was granted by the city or pueblo by the authorities of the city, through the Ayuntamiento or the Alcalde, to various individuals.

"A patent was issued by the United States of America to the City of Monterey for tract one of the city or pueblo lands, containing 27,936.64 acres, including the premises under search, subject to the right of third persons, on the 24th day of November, 1891. Said patent was recorded in the office of the County Recorder of the County of Monterey on the 6th of November, 1896. Volume F of Patents, page 1.

"On February 9, 1859, David Jacks and D. R. Ashley obtained from the City of Monterey a deed conveying to them the Monterey city or pueblo lands, including the premises under search, and thereafter David Jacks acquired title of D. R. Ashley.

"On November 17, 1896, the City of Monterey commenced action in the Superior Court of Monterey County against David Jacks and others to quiet title against them for the lands. All defendants except David Jacks were afterwards dismissed. The owner of the premises under search was not made a party of this action.

"On September 27, 1899, a judgment was made and given in said court to the effect that said plaintiff in said action was not entitled to any relief and was not the owner of the lands described in the complaint.

"Thereafter an appeal was taken to Supreme Court and said decision affirmed. See Monterey City vs. David Jacks, 139 California Decisions, page 542. An appeal thereafter taken to the Supreme Court of the United States has been dismissed, so we are advised." Summarized: The David Jacks Corporation, a corporation, has acquired all interest of David Jacks in said lands, Map copied from the "Map of the City of Monterey” made by D. P. Narvaez in 1849, shows the premises under search and vicinity. (The map, one of the precious heirlooms of days gone by, is in the vaults of Colton Hall, in a depressing state of disability. Something should be done about it,)

The abstract goes on to say that Santiago (James) Stokes obtained a grant "of 50 varas frontage and 30 varas in depth in front of [nearly opposite] the house of Dona Carmen Pinto, a street intervening" in February of 1843.

It is here noted that Walter Colton records the setting aside of a Public Square, by resolution of the Town Council, September 28, 1848. (Colton Hall Park.)

In the fall of '43, Santiago Stokes—"Doctor" by courtesy—sold his lot-grant and the adobe he had meanwhile constructed, to "Don Jose Sanchez, a resident of this capital, a house situated in this Port of Monterey, Said house [actually] consists of parlor and two rooms, adobe walls, wooden floors below and above (tapanco) and is roofed with shingles, and has a kitchen attached on the rear, the whole being in a good state of preservation and for which he pays the sum of $1500."

Observe the ceremony attending the transfer: "After this, I [Stokes] personally went to the house, where I found the grantor; and before him, with his knowledge and permission, and of various witnesses, after again reading the said instrument, delivered unto the grantee quietly and peacably said house, room after room, in each of which said Sanchez seated himself, felt of the walls, doors and floors; opened and closed the doors, scattered handfuls of dirt (soil) in all directions in the back yard, and made other demonstrations in proof of the legal and judicial possession which was accomplished without the least opposition from any parties. The purchaser (grantee) remained (sole) owner and in control of said property." Witnessed 29th of September, 1843, and signed by the principals. Teodoro Gonzales and Jose A. Chavez. (Translated from Spanish by P. W. Soto, by order of supervisors.)

The adobe changed hands many times until it came into the possession of Monterey, where it is hoped it may perpetually remain, rehabilitated for another century's service. Why not for His Honor the Mayor, there to greet the old town's guests?

The French Consulate, a typical Monterey one-storied adobe, was one of the later structures erected outside the Presidio wall—the south side of the road that ran beside the high adobe wall, El Camino Real.

Few adobes in the Old Capital have held a more important place in the general history of California.

France, like England, had her eye on the Land of Milk and Honey that was about to fall into the lap of some nation strong enough to seize it and hold it. Why not France?

In the youth-time of the adobe, exquisitely furnished —French, of course—with a wine-cellar stocked with the best from the hills and sunny vales of France, it was the scene of much Gallic gayety. Likewise, of subtle surveillance of Mexican policies. England maintained a sub-consul in the Capital—James Alexander Forbes—so each representative kept his eye on the activities of the other. And west of the Plaza was the United States Consul, Thomas Oliver Larkin, holding the stakes for his government, complicating the situation; all adding considerably to the gayety of the Old Town.

After Commodore Sloat captured the capital, France ceased to be interested as time wore on, and the building thereafter experienced many adventures, the last, its perilous peregrination from its native site, to El Estero, where it will serve Monterey as a community recreation headquarters. Either that, or its obliteration, as the property had been sold, and removal of the building had been ordered. The Monterey History and Art Association and its friends, in cooperation with the city and with the national Civil Works Administration effected its removal and rehabilitation.
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