Carmel, Carmel Heritage Society, Carmel History, Carmel Mission, Mission Orchard House

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

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.  

(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. 


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