Carmel Inns of Distinction Tour, Christian Jorgansen, Frederick Godwin,, La Playa, The First Murphy House

16th Annual Carmel Inns of Distinction – 2014 – Part 1 – First Murphy House & La Playa Carmel

Carmel Heritage Society
“It’s ours to protect.” 

First Murphy House Carmel-by-the-Sea Home of the Carmel Heritage Society photo FirstMurphyHouseAA-Copy_zpsc3836876.jpg
First Murphy House was built in 1902 by Michael J. Murphy. Today First Murphy House is home to the Carmel Heritage Society. 

On Sunday December 7th, Carmel Heritage Society held their 16th annual Carmel Inns of Distinction Tour.  This year eight unique inns in downtown Carmel-by-the Sea were featured on the tour.

The $30 ticket included a Carmel Heritage Society commemorative wine glass which I frequently used throughout the afternoon, as local wineries and restaurants provided lite bites and wine tasting at each of the inns on the tour.

The Inns of Distinction Tour is one of my favorite Carmel events.  Not only do I get to see inside the rooms of these charming inns during one of the more festive times of the year, I also enjoy the treats and tastings offered at each venue.  And I always come home with gift cards to restaurants and wine bars that far exceed the purchase price of my ticket!! 

The word on this has apparently gotten out, because this year Carmel Heritage Society had their largest number of tickets sold to date for this event! 

Here are the video highlights of the tour.


Now come along while I review the history of the inns and some of the highlights of this year’s tour. 

The La Playa Carmel 
Camino Real & Eighth Avenue 
Amenities: Complimentary Breakfast Buffet, 

Ocean View Rooms, Pool


The La Playa Carmel, known as the Grand Dame of Carmel hotels has ties to some famous Carmelites.

Christian Jorgensen was born in what is now Oslo, Norway in 1860.  His family immigrated to San Francisco in 1874 where he was “discovered” by Virgil Williams at the age of 14 as he sketched a San Francisco cityscape.

Jorgensen became the first person to receive a scholarship to the California School of Fine Arts.  After graduation he became an instructor, and it would be in one of his sketch classes that he would met his future wife, Angela Ghirardelli (as in chocolate). 

Christian and Angela married in 1883.  They had two children and spent many years traveling and painting. Christian was fascinated by the California Missions and captured all 21 of them on canvas.  


The Jorgenson’s came to Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1905 and built their home/studio on the southwest corner of Camino Real and Eighth Avenue which was completed in 1907.

In 1909 Alida Ghirardelli, daughter of Angela’s favorite brother, drowned in Carmel Bay. Others have reported that it was Angela who drowned but it was not.  Angela outlived her husband Christopher by six months, dying in January of 1936. 

The photo above shows the home/studio c. 1905 – 1907 during construction.

In 1911 the Jorgenson’s leased some of the rooms of their home to Agnes Signor for use as a boarding house. Signor had come to Carmel-by-the-Sea after the 1906 earthquake destroyed the three hotels she was managing in San Francisco.  At the time she opened the boarding house at the Jorgenson’s, she was also the manager of the Carmel Bathhouse located at the foot of Ocean Avenue.

By 1916 the Jorgenson’s sold their property to Signor who desired to make her boarding house into a fashionable hotel.  But she needed help. So she sent for her two nephews, Harrison and Fredrick Godwin.

The Godwin brothers arrived, quickly learned the hotel business, added twenty rooms to the property and opened the La Playa Hotel in 1920.

Three years later Agnes Signor died, and the Godwin brothers became the new owners.  In December of 1924 a devastating fire destroyed most of the La Playa Hotel. 

Undeterred, the Godwin brothers spent $34,500 to restore the La Playa Hotel, adding an additional thirty guest rooms. They reopened in 1925 with rooms rates starting at $2.50. 

In 1930 Fred Godwin bought out his brother Harrison’s share in the La Playa Hotel and would become the sole owner until 1963. Fred Godwin would also become mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea from 1946 to 1950. 

Since 1963 the ownership of the La Playa Hotel has changed hands a few times.  The last in 2011 when it was purchased by Classic Hotels and Resorts, renovated at the cost of $3.5 million, and reopened in August 2012 as the La Playa Carmel. 

This is my third year touring the La Playa Carmel with the Carmel Heritage Society Inns of Distinction Tour.  And it never gets old.  I am mesmerized by the building and enchanted by its story.  

Walking to the entrance one can still view the original quatrefoil window patterned after the Carmel Mission.

Jorgenson designed this window and master-mason Ben Turner, who came to what was then called Carmel City in 1896, built the window into the ground level of the stone tower. (look at the b/w pic above and you can glimpse the window on the left, in the base of the brick tower)

Pass through the lobby and
 sitting room with cozy fire burning,

to the Library.  It is here that a complimentary breakfast buffet is served daily to the hotel guests. 

During the Inns of Distinction Tour, this is the gathering place to enjoy some delectable deserts fresh from the La Playa Carmel kitchen and 

pair with a tasting of the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Windy Oaks Winery or their 2012 Estate Pinot.  Windy Oaks just opened a tasting room in the Su Vecino Courtyard off Lincoln between Fifth and Sixth. If anyone is counting, this would be the 19th wine bar in Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

A short pause to enjoy the view of the garden below and it is time to get my peak inside an Ocean View King.

Spacious, simple and uncluttered with a delightful garden view and peak of the ocean through the plantation shutters. 

A short walk three blocks north to Lincoln Street to our next stop, the Cypress Inn.
Black and white photo of Christian Jorgensen – California State Parks Museum Collection.
Jorgensen Watercolor Carmel Mission – Paintings in permanent collection at Sonoma Mission.  Photograph from A Virtual Tour of the California Missions, Jorgensen Watercolors Collection

Black and white Photo of Jorgenson home/studio c. 1905 – courtesy of Harrison Memorial Local Library History Department.
All other photographs by L. A. Momboisse –

McGlynn, Betty Hoag. Straightening Out La Playa’s History. The Sun, November 25, 1992, p.2.

Carmel Heritage Society, Carmel Inns of Distinction Tour, Cypress Inn, Hotel,, Inn, La Playa, Lodging, Restaurant

Carmel Inns of Distinction 2013 – Part III – Cypress Inn, L’Auberge, and La Playa

We have three more unique inns to view.  From the Coachman’s Inn , we head south on 7th Avenue to the Cypress Inn.

Cypress Inn 
Lincoln and 7th Avenue
Attributes: Complimentary Breakfast,
Ocean View Room 220, Pet Friendly Rooms
Terry’s Lounge and Restaurant on Site
The site of the Cypress Inn enjoys a rich history.  Home to the first art gallery of Carmel in 1906, rumored to have been used as a nursing home or sanatorium in the 1920’s, finally transformed into the Hotel La Ribera in 1929, and then quickly forced to close due to the Great Depression.  In the 1960’s the property opened as the Cypress West Hotel.  In the 1980’s it was purchased by its current co-owners, businessman Dennis LeVett and actress Doris Day and became Carmel’s first pet friendly inn. 
We entered through the side patio
where pet’s are welcome
for lunch and dinner
In the lobby annex Terry’s Restaurant serves cookies
and lite bites of roast beef.
The “Day Room”  is decked
out with Christmas cheer
and Heller Estate is pouring
their 2012 Merlot,  Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.
The rooms we tour are in the courtyard
off Terry’s Lounge.
Through the glass doors lies a beautiful
courtyard filled with white lights,

and nine beautifully appointed courtyard rooms. 
The following video tours five of them. 
To  view all the rooms with rates and amenities
 view the Cypress Inn room site, it is very comprehensive. 
And don’t forget to come back
after dark to take in
an original by Mr. Brainwash
For more information
or rates on
Cypress Inn call
L’Auberge Carmel 
Monte Verde at 7th Avenue
Attributes: Valet Parking,
Breakfast, Pet Friendly Rooms,
Peeks of the Ocean from some rooms,
On-Site Restaurant

Just about every building in Carmel-by-the-Sea has a fairly well documented history, and the L’Auberge is no different. 
<span style="font-family: "In 1901, J. F. Devendorf (Carmel’s founding father) ordered 100 San Francisco cottages to be shipped in sections to Carmel.  Only one cottage arrived. It was purchased by former mayor of Carmel, Allen Knight’s father, and reassembled on the Knight property on Monte Verde and Seventh. 
<span style="font-family: "
<span style="font-family: "
<span style="font-family: "During the 1920 while Allen Knight was bicycling through Prague he fell in love with the European architecture and somehow convinced the owner of a Czech hotel to share their blueprints with him.  He brought this drawing back to his aunts, who had inherited the property after his father died.
<span style="font-family: "
<span style="font-family: "The aunts decided to use the plans of the Czech hotel to built an apartment building.  But first they had to move their little cottage to Guadalupe and 6th (which is a whole other story).  Anyway the aunts hired Albert Farr a San Francisco architect to design the project and in 1929 their building opened as the Sundial Apartments, the first apartment building in Carmel. 
<span style="font-family: "
<span style="font-family: "The Sundial Apartments became the Sundial Lodge and finally in 2003 was sold for an undisclosed price to the Auberge Carmel partnership who reopened the L<span style="font-family: "Calibri","sans-serif"; font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-ascii-font-family: "<iframe width=\0022420\0022 height=\0022315"; mso-bidi-font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family: "’<span style="font-family: "Auberge Carmel in January 2013 after a $1 million upgrade.  You may see my post on the grand opening here.     

A member of the Relais & Chateaux an association of luxury hotels and restaurants, the L’Auberge is listed on the Travel & Leisure’s Top 500 World’s Best Hotels and Executive Chef Justin Cogley of their award winning restaurant Aubergine was voted Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in 2013. 

During our tour, Nathaniel Munoz, Aubergine’s Restaurant Director, treated us to a delicious taste of 100 year old cheese and a hot toddy with a pleasant holiday kick…

…from one of the bottles that shares
space in the custom built cheese cave
with the fromagerie.

With warm drink in hand
we passed the lobby fireplace
to the charming courtyard 
where Karen Hudson, Director of Sales, 

met us for our tour.  

For information or rates of
the L’Auberge Carmel 
call 831/624-8578

A short walk to Camino Real and 8th 
and our last inn of the day, 

The La Playa Carmel 
Camino Real & 8th Avenue 
Attributes:  Breakfast,
 Ocean View Rooms, Pool

The La Playa was originally built as a home in 1905 by Christian Jogenson as a gift for his wife.  Mr. Jorgenson was fascinated by the Carmel Mission and even placed a window in his front patio that imitated the star window in the Mission. 
In 1916 the mansion was converted into a hotel, was frequented by my mother and her cousins in the 1920’s and 30’s, and the sight of my college Junior Prom dinner in 1978. 
The hotel recently underwent a
 $3.5 million restoration 

and reopened in August 2012. 
Our tour takes us past the Fireside Room, 

and the historic
 antique wood bar
with iconic Greek columns,

to the dining room 

where the La Playa kitchen
served dessert petit fours

 and sparkling Brut Rose.

Next to the dining room is
the Pacific Terrace

where hotel guests
are served breakfast,and an ocean view. 

Or later in the day guests may enjoy the
Pacific Terrace by the firepit with
a cocktail – and ocean view. 

Of the 75 guest rooms
the La Playa Carmel
has to offer, we toured
Ocean View Rm 201,

with four large picture windows 
overlooking the ocean

and the hotel garden.
For information or rates
on the La Playa Carmel
call 800 / 582 -8900

For a  map of the tour click here.

Our tour is over.  Many thanks to all the hotels, restaurants, and wineries who participated in this years Carmel Inns of Distinction.  The $30 price tag to get in more than pays for itself with the wineries giving away coupons for free tastings and the restaurants giving away coupons for discounts on meals.  Not to mention the numerous pourings and bites one has the opportunity to taste while enjoying a behind the scenes tour of some of our beautiful hotels and inns.  

And finally many thanks to the Carmel Heritage Society, for it is because of their existence and their mission to protect, preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Carmel-by-the-Sea, that this event is even possible.
Carmel Inn’s of Distinction 2013 – Part I (Vendange Carmel, Carmel Garden Inn, Tradewinds Carmel)
Carmel Inn’s of Distinction 2013 – Part II (Carriage House, Coachman’s Inn) 

All pictures and videos by L. A. Momboisse except two black and white photos under L’Auberge.  The first is courtesy of the Harrison Memorial History Library Nixon Files.  The second from Carmel A History In Architecture by Kent Seavey, Page 93, 

Carmel, Carmel Heritage Society, Carmel Inns of Distinction Tour,, La Playa, Tally Ho

Carmel Inns Of Distinction Tour – Part II – La Playa

After touring the cottages of Carmel Cottage Inn, I walked two blocks to the corner of Camino Real and 8th Avenue into the lobby of the “new” La Playa.

This building (mansion) was originally built in 1905 by Christian Jorgenson as a gift for his wife.  Jorgenson was fascinated by the Carmel Mission to the  point that he placed a window in the front patio that imitated the star window in the Mission.

In 1916 the mansion was converted into a hotel, was frequented by my mother and her cousins in the late 1920’s, and the sight of my college Junior Prom dinner in 1978.

The hotel has just undergone a $3.5 million restoration, reopening this past August as La Playa Carmel.

All tour guests were ushered through the decorated lobby passed the Fireside Room with its table set for a private party,

 the Bar,
and the Pacific Terrace,
to the Dining Room.

Here we were offered bite sized Cream Puffs shaped like mini hamburgers and yummy squares of fudge prepared by the La Playa Carmel kitchen.  Wine tasting was offered by Jullian Vineyards of Carmel Valley. 

One room was open for viewing at
the La Playa Carmel,
the Premium Ocean View Room

 with five tall dome shaped windows
overlooking the hotel gardens and ocean beyond.

For information and rates for
The La Playa Carmel
 call: 831/624-6476
Time to walk off a bit of this wine and snacks.  I Tally Ho one block north of Ocean Avenue to Monte Verde & 6th Avenue.
Tally Ho Inn
Monte Verde & 6th Avenue 
The Tally Ho Inn, located across from the Pine Inn, began life as a guest cottage for the overflow of the visitors coming to the Pine Inn in the early 1900’s.  It has changed hands a number of times over the years.  It was even renovated in the 1940’s by Hugh Comstock who was hired by the then owner Jimmy Hatlo a New York cartoonist. 
The relationship between the Tally Ho Inn and the Pine Inn contines to this day, as a complimentary full American breakfast buffet is served Monday – Friday from 8AM to 10AM in the Pine Inn Retaurant Il Fornaio for the guests of the Tally Ho Inn.
Today our refreshments are being provided by Il Fornaio.  Do I have room?
Rooms of the Tally Ho Inn are decorated with antiques and flat screen TV’s, sometimes more than one per room – I actually found out on December 2nd that the RAMS beat the 49ers after being tied in overtime (for the second time this season) on one of the numerous flat screen TV’s.   
Along with a fireplace, this king bedroom 
has plenty of sitting area.
Two long units stretch out off the main lobby area.

Though it was cloudy that day, the ocean is visible below the clouds.

These rooms have lavish ocean views,  
fireplaces, flat screen TV’s,
and luxurious full baths.
A quaint outdoor fireplace welcomes visitors.
For information and rates on
  The Tally Ho
 please call 800/652-2632


Candle Light Inn
San Carlos between 4th and 5th
A few blocks up on the same side of Ocean Avenue I stopped to tour the Candle Light Inn.

A room off the lobby was set up for wine tasting provided by Ventana Vineyards,

 and small bites provided by The Grill on Ocean Avenue. As a gift to all tour guests we also received a coupon for a complimentary wine tasting at the Ventana Winery and coupon for 15% off dinner at The Grill. 

Located near many fine restaurants (Bistro Giovanni, Hog’s Breath , Grasing’s, and The Grill), the Candle Light Inn features three different room possiblities:

The Standard King Room
The Standard Double
The Deluxe Room or Suite with
Kitchen, Jacuzzi Tub, Wood-Burning Fireplace
or combination of any of the above
Besides a daily Continental breakfast and newspaper delivered to your door and fresh baked cookies in the afternoon in the lobby, the Candle Light Inn offers packages with discounts for dinner, golf or a visit to the Monterey Aquarium.  My favorite amenity is the large used brick fire-pit in the parking lot. 

For information and rates call

Carmel Inns of Distinction Tour Part III
Lamp Lighter, Ocean & Camino Real
Cypress Inn, Lincoln & 7th